I want to talk about something that happened a couple days ago that really upset me. Something that caused me to break my recent vow of “no discourse.” Actually, I want to talk about multiple things that, at first, seem like disparate topics, but all tie together in the end.
I want to talk about “callout culture.”
I’m going to begin by talking about some things that happened four years ago. A lifetime ago by internet standards, but it feels like yesterday when you see how the people affected are doing now.
We all know who Ian Miles Cheong is, right? Screencaps of whatever dumb, racist shit he’s said today has undoubtedly appeared on your social media feeds at least twelve times in the last hour. He’s probably the third most dunkable man on Twitter, right behind Elon Musk and Donald Trump. An unsavory character, for sure. But he wasn’t always that way. There was a time where he, at the very least, pretended that he wasn’t a bigoted asshole. And a lot of people on varying degrees of the left believed him. They trusted him, liked him, considered him a friend. Hell, he managed to kayfabe his way in to Crash Override, back when that was also pretending to not be a total sham. Then a games writer suggested that there should be more Black people in The Witcher 3 and he was like, “fuck this, I’m going back to the right-wing!” and now he’s the reactionary writer we all know and dislike.
Now, what does this have to do with callout culture? Well, remember how I said that there were people that trusted him before he did his Mr. Burns “change of heart, then quickly change back” deal? He made a Twitter post during his “SJW” phase, more or less calling a games personality an asshole that people were afraid to piss off. Said personality then proceeded to prove him right by waiting a month or two after his big heel turn, posting a list of everyone who liked that post, and telling her audience that these were people who “are holding down women of color in games.” Almost every person on that list was a transgender woman. That detail will be important later.
These women all ended up being targeted for harassment. One of these woman I wrote about before: smeared as a nazi sympathizer and an abuser, who would ultimately be abused by her own wife, before getting kicked out of their home in the dead of Winter, because she liked a tweet. Let me reiterate: a trans woman with a physical disability and a heart condition was left in a situation where she could have conceivably died, because of an internet post made by someone else. A cisgender man in Malaysia does something fucked up, and the blame is laid at the feet of a trans woman in Canada.
Here’s another one. Remember “The Allyzone?” A guy at Amazon makes a bad Twitter post while the rest of us are all in bed, and it leads to this years-long mess of bullshit that targets everyone but the guy who coined that term in the first place? Around the same time, there was a trans woman who was making her name keeping tabs on the actions of hate groups, in an attempt to prove that it wasn’t all a bunch of edgy teens trolling each other on 4chan. But because she was mutual Twitter followers with the guy, suddenly she’s now a “performative activist” and a “bad queer ally.” And on top of that, Milo Yiannopoulos called you a pedophile, and he’s a man that has never lied about anything! Again, a cis man does something wrong, and a trans woman on the opposite end of the country gets labeled a pedophile (despite there being physical proof to the contrary).
That is two women, who I am friends with, who had their lives completely torn apart because of things that they didn’t even do. Because of tweets! Do you understand how fucking stupid the term “tweet” is? It brings me actual, physical pain to say or to type. You may as well jam some bamboo shoots under my fingernails every time I have to say “tweet” in an attempt to illustrate how fucked it is that innocent people got destroyed because they were in the fallout range of an internet callout. If you ever wanted to know why I felt that the indie games scene was a transphobic joke for years, and why I still sometimes bristle at the use of the term “AltGames,” now you know.
Now let me bring things to the current day. A popular musician was the subject of a callout because she once talked to and associated with another musician who turned out to be a sexual predator. Not because she herself did anything wrong, but because she knew someone who did. And she’s not the only one; a lot of us were willing to believe this person when they claimed their innocence. Hell, I did.
This woman, a CSA survivor, was accused of being a facilitator of child abuse because she had a tangential connection to an actual abuser. Now, speaking as someone who was also molested as a child, that is probably one of the worst things you can to say to someone like that, maybe second only to “you deserved it.” Unsurprisingly, she ended up having a massive panic attack as a result.
This is why I hate the concept of the callout: not because I have an insatiable appetite for racism and child pornography and would like to see the providers of such left alone, but because the shit doesn’t work. It never hurts the actual target, and utterly annihilates those on the sidelines. IMC still makes his living as a reactionary writer. Izzy Galvez still works for Amazon*. 4lung is still a popular musician. Hell, you can straight up admit to attempted rape, disappear for a few months, then reemerge with Macaulay Caulkin and Kenny Omega promoting your latest work. My friend’s shitty ex-wife? Fairly big name in the field of video games preservation; you’ve probably played one of the games she saved. A number of you follow her online. Hell, one of you even went to her house a few weeks ago to watch movies and play video games. I’m not about to write a big callout post accusing you all of supporting wife beating. The attempt at no-platforming never hits the mark. It always misses, and hits some unrelated, innocent person, instead. It’s not a coincidence so many people who are cast away tend to be trans, queer, and flat broke. Abusers are still not only still around, but actively thriving. Again, the shit doesn’t work.
*I understand that it’s a bit fucked up to put “said a dumb thing on the internet” in the same category as “being a nazi” and “admitting to being a ‘minor-attracted person’ on your private Twitter,” but I think you understand what I’m trying to get across here. You’re mad at him, but you’re going to take your anger out of someone in the periphery.
Another thing about all of this that gets to me, is how many people attempt to convince you that a person is bad based on screencaps they pulled from Kiwi Farms. Hell, a person that I’m told is a fairly prominent queer voice even outright said that “Kiwi Farms has a use.” Bullshit. Kiwi Farms does not have a use. It has never had a use, and it will never have a use. It is a website that once had a thread on its front page titled, “How to make trannies kill themselves.” I could go into all the heinous, criminal shit that they get up to, but I’ll simply say this: Kiwi Farms is populated by a group of rocket scientists that think I’m into bestiality because I said “dicks out for Harambe.” It’s not “problematic” for anyone, let alone a trans person, to discount anything they say.
And there are those that would say that despite all the terrible things they do, Kiwi Farms has targeted people who turned out to be predators themselves. Basically saying that all the innocent people who have been doxxed, harassed, and stalked for years on end for reasons ranging from “being an outspoken activist” to “saying ‘Abolish ICE’ a few too many times” are expendable, because one or two of them might be bad. These people, who we have already established are being targeted until they commit suicide, are an acceptable loss. You are saying that I am an acceptable loss.
Let me respond as such: Fuck you. I am nobody’s acceptable loss.
To see my fellow transes use this place as a source is pretty fucking depressing, honestly. Though, by now, I should not be surprised. We like to assume that the people who do this are mostly anonymous 16-year olds with K-Pop avatars. And that’s mostly true, but there’s a lot of people doing this shit that are in their 20s, even their 30s. Like, you’re adults! Grow up!
This all brings me to my point: I have given up on trying to endear myself to a community. Trying to do that is what got me dragged into all this bullshit in the first place. Too much toxic bullshit. Too much stupid discourse. And honestly? It’s all because of one thing: everyone is terrified of pissing off cis people. That’s pretty much it. Allyship is a fucking joke, and we work a lot better for them as a concept, not as actual people. When they are reminded that we have thoughts and feelings, and that we shit and fuck like they do, that’s a problem. You want proof of that? Look how they sided with Mike Cernovich, the Gamergate Cum Lawyer, over Chelsea Goddamn Manning. How often does The Discourse revolve around sex? Kink at Pride. Offbeat fetishes being likened to pedophilia, even if children aren’t involved (anyone else remember that poor woman who got harassed for the Nier Automata Force-Femme fanfic she wrote for Waypoint?). How dare you call yourself a bisexual lesbian! It’s fucking stupid. And it muddies the waters when actual predators infiltrate our spaces, claiming that them jacking it to kids is the same as someone in their mid-20s putting something up their butt on their webcam.
My advice to you is this: be trashy. Be problematic. Be yourself. Because guess what? Even if you do your best to keep your head down, your mouth shut, and your pants on, all it takes is you laughing at the wrong joke and you’re fucked, dude. You will be judged, hated, even doxxed at your most benign, so you might as well go out of your way to make terrible people uncomfortable.
I’ve given up on community. I simply wish to exist as my own person, making the art I want, and chilling out, having a good time not having to worry about upsetting some faceless “influencer” with delusions of adequacy. And if you would like to come with me on this wild ride, feel free to do so. I wish to be there for my friends and loved ones, because they are what’s important. Not some hashtag and staying on the good side of some asshole I’ll never even meet.
And another reason why I’ve given up on community is because I am so tired of seeing these childish, saccharine calls for unity. We have to stick together, ya’ll! There are actual nazis out there, and we need to fight them!
I do not wish to stand side-by-side with rapists, pedophiles, domestic abusers, white supremacists, gamergate supporters, neoliberals, centrist assimilationists who condemn Chelsea Manning while putting over Contrapoints like she’s the result of Marcia P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera doing the Fusion Dance, jackoffs using Kiwi Farms and Breitbart to harm other trans women, or anyone else that would willingly harm me. And you shouldn’t either! Be there for the people you care about; the ones that won’t leave you on the whims of someone who still thinks this is 2012 Tumblr. That’s what matters.