Virginia abortion restrictions cause a major government official to resign. Gawker outs a notorious Reddit sexual predator. Also: How non-traditional friendships remake our idea of what friendship can be.
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On this episode of Reality Cast, I’ll talk about the recent outing of a notorious online sexual predator and the repercussions of the new abortion restrictions in Virginia. Also: How do unconventional friendships help us loosen our ideas about love and relationships?
New York’s Senate race has two female candidates, Kristen Gillibrand and Wendy Long, and they were, no joke, asked this at a recent debate.
* fifty shades *
I really can’t wait for the day when the world finally accepts that women do things like hold jobs and have interests out of being sex objects and having babies. Or, if everything has to be about sexualizing women, spread that around and ask male politicians about their porn-viewing habits.
While the national media covering the campaign season has once again devolved into treating the abortion controversy like it’s just a personal matter and not a policy issue, in the real world, anti-choice policies are exacting very serious tolls on women and the medical community. No where is this more evident than in Virginia, where onerous new restrictions on abortion clinics have already caused a resignation in the state government.
- Virginia 1 *
This is basically the conflict anti-choicers wish to create. They want to make the regulations on abortion providers so immoral and unethical that people whose priority is treating patients with decency and basic ethics struggle to go forward. For doctors, making sure women have access to safe abortion often outweighs the discomfort of being forced to provide misinformation to patients, but for a health commissioner whose job is to look out for patients, enforcing a bunch of immoral restrictions is understandably a step too far.
Virginia’s new slate of terrible restrictions got a lot of attention some months back when the phrase “transvaginal ultrasound” turned into an embarrassment for anti-choice politicians who were exposed as perverts who want to punish women with unnecessary invasive medical procedures. But after that storm was weathered, the new regulations basically passed intact, and they are terrible indeed. The Young Turks reported.
- Virginia 2 *
Obviously, the whole point of this is not to make abortion safer. If they wanted abortion to be safer, they wouldn’t be imposing unnecessary regulations that cost up to a million dollars for clinics and will just put those clinics out of business. That’s because if you want abortion to be safe, you don’t want to drive women to the black market, which is exactly what this kind of stuff does. This is about the opposite of making abortion safer. The people behind these regulations want to end safe abortion completely, by running safe clinics out of town. But on top of simply making life harder for abortion providers, as the Young Turks pointed out, passing a bunch of pointless regulations has a psychological effect.
- Virginia 3 *
This is no joke. A lot of abortion doctors have hair-raising tales of the sort of things that patients fear will happen to them when they come to get an abortion. Patients are often terrified out of their minds, for no reason. I mean, it doesn’t stop them from getting abortions; it’s amazing what kind of suffering women feel they’re in for but they’re willing to endure because the alternative is worse. Indeed, that’s why the black market is such a threat. Antis may pretend to believe women will simply just opt to have babies without safe abortion, but women are eager enough to control their bodies that they’ll take their chances. And can we really blame them? Having control over your own body is a very basic human need.
So why, after all the fuss was raised over transvaginal ultrasounds, did this happen anyway? I like this explanation:
- Virginia 4 *
The problem is exacerbated by the fact that people don’t think this stuff affects them. A lot of people just don’t think they’re ever going to need abortion services. Even if they’re people who can get pregnant, a lot of the time they lull themselves into believing that they’ll never find themselves into that situation. So it gets kicked into the Someone Else’s Problem bin. There’s just a huge gulf between how much the people who obsess about controlling women care and the people who don’t want to control women care. And that’s not going to get better until people who care about women start to speak up in larger numbers.
Recently, the internet and then the mainstream media blew up with a strange but I believe important story about a single, popular poster on Reddit who went under the name Violentacrez, but who was outed by Adrian Chen of Gawker as Michael Brutsch. Much of the reporting on this story characterizes Brutsch as a “troll”, as if his main offense was trying to get a rise out of people by creating forums with racial slurs as names or one dedicated to rape jokes. The reality is much uglier. Brutsch is a sexual predator who spent most of his time online creating communities of men who would encourage each other to stalk women and girls on and offline.
Chen went on Slate’s Culture Gabfest to describe how terrible a person Brutsch was, and why he needed to be outed.
- reddit 1 *
Brutsch not only created a community that encouraged online stalking of underage girls, but also another called “creep shots”, where men encouraged each other to stalk women in real life, trying to get photos of their bodies from angles that could be framed as non-consensual pornography, both in terms of what are called “upskirt” shots but also just taking pictures of their bodies in a way there the photo fetishized the woman’s utter lack of consent to be conscripted into porn. This wasn’t just trolling, as real women were affected. In addition, we know that rapists and child molesters often have to work really hard to work up the nerve to directly assault someone, so the presence of an online forum where they could find a community that openly disdains the concept of consent and supports men who have these desires to use women sexually against their will could very well help such men feel more entitled to rape women and children. In fact, Brutsch himself bragged about having sex with his 19-year-old stepdaughter. He claims it was consensual, but then claims her mother consented to be married to him for 10 more years. The likelier story is that his definition of “consent” is strongly compromised, especially since he and his fellow posters adamantly claim that merely leaving the house constitutes consent for women to appear in their pornographic photos.
Chen described on the podcast how Reddit catered to these sexual predators and put the desires of these men to sexually exploit minors and non-consenting women ahead of, you know, the minors and non-consenting women’s right to be left alone.
- reddit 2 *
This urge to leap to the defense of abusive men and sexual predators is sadly one I see all the time. A lot of people feel the problem is those who speak out against predators, because the people who speak out make it hard for them to pretend not to know the bad behavior is going on. Reddit got a lot of traffic catering to men who wish to sexually victimize women and minors. Lashing out at the people who call this behavior out is easier than accepting that they were complicit. The people doing this lashing out are hiding behind “freedom of speech”, but if free speech protects the right to perv on women for leaving the house, then it certainly protects Chen’s right to out someone online. In fact, freedom of the press was specifically established to protect the right of journalists like Chen to shine the bright light of truth on seedy situations, such as communities of sexual predators exploiting anonymity online to harm women and girls.
Brutsch was interviewed on CNN, and he came off as even more creepy and terrible than I suspect most people imagined. He pretended to take seriously the idea that people are hurt by having their pictures used in porn against their will, but it was clear he was just mimicking what he thinks he’s supposed to say. Drew Griffin basically called him out, showing the audience how Brutsch still doesn’t really think of women or girls as people, so much as sex toys you can do whatever you want to.
- reddit 3 *
Brutsch spent a lot of time pitying himself and whining that he lost his job and whatnot, but when confronted with the fact that he was sexually victimizing underage girls, he issued an insincere apology and punted the blame to Reddit.
- reddit 4 *
His so-called apology is clearly insincere, or else he wouldn’t characterize sexual predation as merely “inappropriate”. The same week as his outing, a teenage girl in British Columbia committed suicide and said it was, in part, because a man who got a so-called “jailbait” picture of her kept using it to torment and harass her. Brutsch shows no signs of grasping that the women he victimized are people. In fact, the entire point of his online career was to dehumanize and degrade them. He’s just sorry he got caught.
And now for the Wisdom of Wingnuts, good girls don’t even have vaginas edition. I’ve been noticing a growing trend on the right to insinuate that anyone who supports reproductive rights must be an out-of-control sex addict whose only concern in life is getting laid all the time. I get that accusation more lately from trolls, much to my delight, because it makes me sound way more glamorous than I am. Anyway, Michelle Malkin reduced this slur to a cute little catchphrase.
- lady parts *
Of course, claiming that women who support pro-choice policies are simply too sex-crazed to know better will probably backfire. The only people who seem to respond positively to this silliness are nutty right wingers with serious psychosexual issues. Everyone else finds it distasteful at best.