01 Jul Jessica Valenti doesn't understand the Streisand Effect
By J. DeVoy
Imagine if there was an online database of killers, child abusers, bigots, rapists and liars – and they were all women. Now there is! Register-Her.com, a project started by Paul Elam, a men’s rights activist and contributor to The Spearhead, uses a wiki-style webpage to consolidate locally and nationally reported facts about women whose documented wrongs range from murder to false rape accusations. [Disclaimer: Like Elam, I also contribute to The Spearhead.] This is SRS BUSINESS.
One of the first additions to the site as a “bigot” is feministing’s own Jessica Valenti. Merriam-Webster defines a bigot as “a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially : one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance.” Without dignifying Valenti’s oeuvre with my attention, this sounds accurate.
If a tree falls in the woods, does anyone hear it? If Jessica Valenti didn’t shriek like a harpy about “misogyny,” would so many others know about Register-Her.com? Rather than letting this roll off her back with the cool disposition of an empowered, independent blah blah blah… woman, she posted this YouTube (which, admittedly, I have not watched to completion).
Result: More people know about the site. Also, male advocates are increasingly stepping out of anonymity, contrary to Valenti’s assertions. Paul Elam’s real name is… Paul Elam! My name and identity are well known, and I’m on the record opposing anonymity in advocating men’s issues and any other controversial position — though I understand and respect why others employ it. Crime & Federalism offers a counterpoint on the issue here. I rather enjoy this and, as far as I know, the “basement-dwelling virgin” meme has never been attached to me. In fact, the biggest critics of women I’ve met are people among the best looking and most successful with women that I know. In contrast, the basement-confined and virginal types tend to supplicate women and resent men who are successful with women, turning on them for the smallest of reasons (like in the case of Dominique Strauss-Kahn — come on, “forced” oral sex wasn’t a red flag of falsity?).
Just like when Barbara Steisand’s shrill howls – and not even her singing – drew attention to photos of her Pacific mansion online, Jessica Valenti’s plaintive whines drive more eyes to the site. If she had just shut up, the damage would have been limited mostly to the men who would have found the site anyway – preaching to the choir. Realizing that the damage was done, Valenti is now trying to scrub the internet of any trace of her existence, seeking the anonymity she criticizes men for using to voice their opinions. I hope Reputation Defender is still in business!
Is it fair for Register-Her.com to exist? The Atlantic tells us that it’s the “End of Men.” Women already kvetch and attack men’s reputations on Don’t Date Him Girl. There’s no need for free speech to be “fair,” since its mere availability levels the playing field. This new website fills a void in beating back the myth of intrinsic female virtue, though. I clicked around to see what the site was about and found that each article is a recitation of sourced, cited and publicly available information. In some cases, the women profiled in the articles are described in their very own words. While the site was designed to be provocative, it was not created with the intent to hurt those named within it for the sheer purpose of inflicting pain. Plus, there are limitations of liability inherent in the site’s design and operation. Section 230 protects the site’s owner from liability for content posted by others. To the extent others’ content may wind up on the site, such as a mugshot or screen capture, they tend to be government works – which are not subject to copyright – or tiny snippets of news articles that are almost certain to constitute fair use — assuming the articles’ factual elements can even be copyrighted.
As for litigation that can be pursued against the site… what, exactly? Where is the disclosure of public facts when all of the site’s information is available from other online sources? What unreasonable attention has been brought to someone’s private life? How is aggregation of the news shocking or extreme conduct — especially when Register-Her.com is a republication of what others have written? I’m confident Elam has the compassion to remove an entry if there’s a good reason to do so, but it is unlikely that reason would be expressed via litigation with even a remote chance of success, even as a SLAPP suit.
I’ve no doubt that this is far from the end of whining and gnashing of teeth over Register-Her.com. More will come as the site’s contents work their way up Google’s search algorithm. All they will do, however, is make the site more well-read and well-known. (See also Juicycampus.com (RIP).)