Trolling is Trolling even When It’s Feminism

It turns out that Shanley Kane, Twitter’s meanest Mean Girl, was the sugar momma for notorious troll and not-quite-felon Weev. Shanley has even confessed to making racist statements during that relationship. Her former cofounder followed up with details of abuse during their time at Model View Culture. Then there’s a conversation worth having about the misogynistic responses to Shanley’s personal life. But let’s set aside all these things, for now, so we can focus on just one statement.

In her pastebin post responding to questions posed by Milo and others, Shanley says: “I spent years not giving a fuck…..or working to dismantle the systems I’ve been part of.”

Shanley Kane is working to dismantle the systems, infrastructures and relationships of the current tech establishment. She does so in a scorched-earth fashion — endeavoring to destroy the people perpetuating Silicon Valley. Hers is a feminist take on trolling but her tacts are entirely similar to those used by Weev. It is clear that she studied him.

Shanley’s approach combines half-truths, lies, harassment and online mobbing in a manner that mirrors Weev’s style, and with the same willingness to do harm. We don’t need to take Weev at his word when he says that he taught Shanley how to troll. Her leadership of twitter mobs aiming to harass and chill speech is sufficient proof.

I’ve been speaking with various thoughtful people who are wondering out loud how they much they should support Shanley. I don’t support Shanley because I would like to build new systems and repair our existing ones. Her work introduces mistrust, anarchy and hate into the ecosystem. She tears down to destroy.

Along with most of the feminists that I’ve met, I’m here to build.

Note that this doesn’t mean that I support harassing Shanley. I’d like to see less harassment. That’s my position. Less harassment, for everyone. I do hope this isn’t a controversial statement.

The legitimacy of her approach is not being questioned here. Guerrilla tactics and war-time tactics all have legitimacy, according to certain schools of thought. My aim here is to draw attention to her goals — dismantling and destroying Silicon Valley, using abusive and speech-chilling tactics similar to those used by notorious troll Weev — so that allies and feminists can make an educated decision about whether to support her individual speech.

It is important for me to state as clearly as possible that we can wish to call out bad actors, to improve our ecosystem, to support women in tech, to combat harassers, and to generally support all of the causes articulated so well in Model View Culture — without also supporting the kind of speech represented by Shanley’s classic line “fuck your face.”

I imagine that this is where I am critiqued for tone policing. People are welcome to say “fuck you” to whoever they wish, on the internet. It’s a free internet and a free Twitter, or at least mostly free. It’s equally my right to assess that emotionally violent techniques are not the most effective possible tools within our collective toolkit, and that I would like to see us do better.

I don’t want to work in a climate of fear, and I suspect neither do you. Men confess to me that they are afraid to say anything, lest they be Shanley’s next victim. You might say that people deserve the treatment they’ve gotten from Shanley. I question whether anyone deserves harassment or abuse.

Weev has said that Shanley asked him to train her in chilling and silencing her enemies. Her classic line “fuck your face” does just that, and it comes at the expense of a deeper conversation about how we can work together to create a better Silicon Valley.

The male allies that I know who wish to support Shanley seem to do so out of a genuine concern for supporting feminism. But Shanley is creating a hostile ecosystem,- one that makes it seem like you are either with her or against her. With Shanley or with Weev. This is an entirely false dichotomy.

There is another path — one where we don’t use Twitter mobs to harass and silence, and one where we try to have meaningful dialogue about sexism and rape.

My hope is that would-be allies and feminists will recognize that “fuck your face” is more representative of abuse than of feminism. Please do support Model View Culture but let’s also please stop defending “fuck your face” feminism.