Socially Conscious Trolling (Or Why I Read Georgetown Confessions)

29 Apr

by Kat Kelley

I read Georgetown Confessions, because its large readership demands the presence of alternative voices.

In other words, I primarily read Georgetown Confessions because I fucking hate rape culture.

According to Force, rape culture, or rather our culture is a culture in which we are

“surrounded with images, language, laws, and other everyday phenomena that validate and perpetuate rape. Rape culture includes jokes, TV, music, advertising, legal jargon, laws, words and imagery, that make violence against women and sexual coercion seem so normal that people believe that rape is inevitable. Rather than viewing the culture of rape as a problem to change, people in a rape culture think about the persistence of rape as ‘just the way things are.’”

Now I realize words like “patriarchy,” “misogyny,” and “rape culture” can turn away those less willing to acquaint themselves with the feminist movement. But stick with me just for this piece.

So why do I read Georgetown Confessions? Because there is a lot of misogyny and perpetuation of rape culture, and while I could boycott the page, I don’t want Hoyas to merely get that perspective (also, real talk, I do often enjoy the posts, and there is a lot of humor there).

We can’t change our rape culture if we don’t acknowledge it. I appreciate awareness, but sometimes I have people approach me regarding their realization that sexual assault is a big deal and super prevalent, or that feminism is still relevant, and I want to hit my head against a wall. So I love calling out rape culture. I love showing people that rape culture exists, that we need to acknowledge it, and most importantly, that I won’t take it lying down. 

Our generation is so easy to manipulate via social media; for example “facebook likes” are a powerful tool for punishing negative and reinforcing positive behavior. If someone posts their racist or elitist meanderings on Georgetown Confessions and they receive a shit storm of angry responses, they are likely going to (1) never vocalize those beliefs in a non-anonymous context, and maybe even (2) question their beliefs in light of the chorus of dissent. If someone admits that their guilty pleasure is Fall Out Boy and 55 people “agree” via likes, then they will know that every throwback playlist needs some “A Little Less Sixteen Candles, A Little More Touch Me.”

So when I saw “Name gets rapey at Tombs” on Georgetown Insults’ page, I left a link to Force’s Upsetting Rape Culture page. Someone may call me out for being the politically correct police, but they are also going to think twice about trivializing rape in the future. And on these anonymous pages, people are testing the waters- they are throwing their thoughts out there, and getting feedback without having to take ownership. So I troll Georgetown Confessions to offer a counter point. 

So as many of you may be suspecting or aware, this piece has in fact been prompted by specific events. I was recently attacked via Georgetown Confessions. It started at tame, and then rapidly escalated.

It started out with me calling out rape culture. Some unknowing rape apologist asserted that women cannot complaining about unwanted attention if they dress in a certain way, and I pointed out that their post perpetuated the “she was asking for it” myth.

And anyone who has chatted with me about sexual assault, knows I hate rape myths, or commonly held assumptions that invalidate or deny the experiences of survivors, and justify the actions of perpetrators of sexual assault. These include the beliefs that it doesn’t happen here, women frequently lie and falsely report about sexual assault, that there is a fine line between consensual actions and sexual assault, that a man could “accidentally” sexually assault a woman, that women are “asking for it,” that perpetrators are evil strangers hiding in bushes, and that all perpetrators are men and all survivors are women.

However either the original author or reader didn’t appreciate my comment, and consequently a post appeared the next day, addressed to the “Ladies of Georgetown, Specifically @Kat Kelley,” claiming that if one is “wearing a whore’s uniform” the cannot “complain” that they were “verbally abused etc or sexually harassed.”

I had a lot of thoughts. Fortunately, someone else pointed out that sexual and verbal assault are never warranted, and my friend Jayme came to my defense. I benignly responded that such a comment was insulting to men- they aren’t animals, and the idea that they can’t help themselves around scantily clad women is offensive. I merely took a positive outlook- I didn’t use the word misogyny or patriarchy.

I anticipated that the author and readers of the submission would for a hot second realize that rape culture might just be a thing, and that their behavior and words perpetuate it. Or at the least, they’d avoid slut shaming in the future.

Instead, they attacked me, personally, claiming that despite the fact that I am empowered and a feminist I am still a slut. Fortunately, I immediately found an outpouring of support. A plethora of people commented in support, including people I’ve never met. And each of those comments was liked on liked on liked. Georgetown Confessions themselves apologized, promising to be more intentional about weeding out cyber bullying in the future, and deleted the first comment. And I realized that my friends are fucking awesome.

And you know what? Not only do I feel supported and validated and reinforced despite the prevalence of one hater- but the message is more important for all the other readers. 

Georgetown Confessions has 1696 followers, and as someone who runs a facebook page with 191 followers, yet has had statuses that have been seen by over 1000 people, and blogs read by over 1700 people, chances are, a fuck ton of people read that post. And while a few agreed that I’m a dirty whore and even more came out in my defense, the vast majority of those readers have learned- not only that you don’t fuck with Kat Kelley, because my friends are fierce activists who know quite well that “well behaved women (or men!) rarely make history” (Laurel Thatcher Ulrich)- but that slut shaming will not be tolerated by the vast majority of Hoyas (at least when it is in an obvious enough format that they can identify it…) and that sexual harassment and assault are never warranted.

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