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Today in Depressing

The Above the Game Kickstarter and Kickstarter’s Screening Policy


Over the past couple of days leading up to the successful funding of the Above the Game: A Guide to Getting Awesome With Women Kickstarter, the project has come to the attention of many for its questionable content, and its success in the context of Kickstarter’s basic guidelines. I will preface this post with a trigger warning, as the information below constitutes a sensitive, but very important, subject to discuss. The main issue that has been raised with this particular Kickstarter, a book project begun by Ken Hoinsky, is that the material in the book, while not stated as such on the Kickstarter page, includes advice on “getting awesome with women” that constitutes harassment and even rape. This means that while the book, which has been available on Reddit’s “seduction” subreddit for several years, should certainly fall under the heading of the “offensive material (hate speech, etc.)” prohibited in Kickstarter’s basic guidelines, the book somehow was allowed a Kickstarter.

The controversy was first brought to light by blogger Casey Malone, whose initial post about Above the Game, “This is Not Fucking Harmless,” has received over 7,000 notes. After bringing up the issue, Malone received a lot of website traffic and support in his condemnation of the project, but he and the friends who supported him, also received negative feedback. Malone points out that in bringing up the issue, his female friends who retweeted the post received harassment earlier than he did, and when he did begin to receive negative comments, many of the commenters believed him to be female. Malone’s experience with these responses further cements the importance of condeming Above the Game for its place in perpetuating a culture of disrespect and harassment towards women, on and off the internet.

The Kickstarter page for the project itself doesn’t contain anything extremely problematic, though it does link to the original subreddit featuring the first part of the book. The content itself, and not the pitch, is where the disturbing information is, and forms the loophole that ultimately led to the successful existence of the Kickstarter. The information in the subreddit, which will be published in the book, contains advice like (via Reddit):

If a woman isn’t comfortable, take a break and try again later. All that matters is that you continue to try to escalate physically until she makes it genuinely clear that it’s not happening.  She wants to be desired but the circumstances need to be right… you will learn to differentiate between, ‘No, we can’t… my parents are in the next room…OMG F**k ME’ from the ‘SERIOUSLY GET THE F**k OFF ME YOU CREEP’ variety of resistance.

This quote comes from the “Important Note on Resistance” section, and displays only some of the ways in which Hoinsky suggests in the book that readers take on a level of persistance and disregard for the other individual’s wishes that perpetuates the belief that it is okay to coerce another person into actions they are not comfortable with. In other words, even while Hoinsky tries to stress respect, he actually reinforces the completely misguided idea that a lack of consent can or should be overcome.  In the “Physical Escalation” section of the Reddit sample, Hoinsky writes:

All the greatest seducers in history could not keep their hands off of women. They aggressively escalated physically with every woman they were flirting with. They began touching them immediately, kept great body language and eye contact, and were shameless in their physicality. Even when a girl rejects your advances, she KNOWS that you desire her. That’s hot. It arouses her physically and psychologically.

Again, Hoinsky tells his readers that rejection is desirable, which completely contradicts the truth of the situation: that rejection is rejection, no does, in fact, mean no, and mutual respect is absolutely crucial in interacting with anyone, whether in a romantic setting or otherwise.

The rest of the book sample available on Reddit contains many similar pieces of advice, that amount to an overall endorsement by Hoinsky of actions that constitue harassment and even rape to “get” women. “Don’t ask for permission. Be dominant. Force her to rebuff your advances,” is a bolded portion of the “Physical Escalation & Sex” section. This information should, clearly, be under the heading of “offensive material” that is banned from Kickstarter projects, and Malone believed so too. When he contacted Kickstarter to report  Above the Game for its offensive content, Kickstarter took several hours to respond, but did so with some specificity towards the event and not just a stock response. Via Malone’s Website:

This morning, material that a project creator posted on Reddit earlier this year was brought to our and the public’s attention just hours before the project’s deadline. Some of this material is abhorrent and inconsistent with our values as people and as an organization. Based on our current guidelines, however, the material on Reddit did not warrant the irreversible action of canceling the project.

As stewards of Kickstarter we sometimes have to make difficult decisions. We followed the discussion around the web today very closely. It led to a lot of internal discussion and will lead to a further review of our policies.

As Malone pointed out, the fact that Kickstarter’s people believe the “material is abhorrent and inconsistant with [their] values” but somehow didn’t believe it warranted cancellation is not just disappointing, but fairly confusing. This incident brings up a larger issue with Kickstarter. While it allows many amazing projects to be completed, it also has an extremely vague policy on projects and little screening process beyond reviewing the pitch on the actual website. This is where the Above the Game project becomes an important example.

While the actual Kickstarter pitch appears to be a relatively straightforward how-to book, albeit one that suggests there is a single method to ingratiate yourself with women (who are obviously a very large and diverse group in reality), the page does link to the actual book content on Reddit. The offensive material itself is not on Kickstarter, but would have been easy for the company to review prior to approving the project. While their terms of use explicitly state they are not liable for any information that is linked to via project pages, Kickstarter could still have viewed the content of the book given the already dubious title and purpose. Still, Kickstarter does have a stated policy that funders should “use… internet street smarts” when judging the validity of a project, and make sure to:

“Look for the creator bio section on the project page. Are they Facebook Connected? Do they provide links for further verification? The web is an invaluable resource for learning more about a person.”

It is understandable that Kickstarter would want to protect their company from liability, especially given that it is difficult for them to completely do away with projects that might be scams, but the Above the Game project is not a scam. It is a project that was funded eight times over but contains content that encourages the harmful treatment of women (and has over 49,000 people petitioning for Kickstarter to revoke the funding). The question is, how should Kickstarter address their policies to prevent this kind of issue from arising again?

[Editor’s Note: We’ve posted a full update to this story here.)

(via Casey Malone is the Brute Squad, Kickstarter, Reddit)

Previously in Kickstarter

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  • Anonymous

    I say, go find the backers’ KS accounts (they’re public) and let them know how you feel.

  • Anonymous

    I read a portion of the book on another website and felt physically ill at what was being written. It was rape/sexual assault, pure and simple. the fact that anyone came up with this, never mind funded it is beyond me. And the fact that Kickstarter chose to let it slide makes them just as culpable of the horrific acts that will stem from this book.

  • Emily

    I understand that Kickstarter felt that because the scary stuff wasn’t posted on their site, there was nothing they could do about it, but I think it’s not beyond their scope of responsibility to put the funds on hold until they can review the full content of the book. Some guy, somewhere – even if it’s just one guy – will read this stuff and internalize that it’s okay to sexually assault women and that all other guys do it too, and that’s unacceptable.

  • Blake

    Kickstarter almost ruined my life after I helped expose a scam on
    kickstarter and the scammers retaliated. I then decided to start a
    kickstarter but it got rejected for not following their “guidelines”. I
    since switched to Indiegogo and they’re hosting the exact same project I
    wanted to run on Kickstarter to increase transparency in crowdfunding.

    http://igg.me/at/crowdfundtransparency/x/787966

  • Anonymous

    The offensive material itself is not on Kickstarter, but would have been easy for the company to review prior to approving the project.

    Might I ask how many projects are currently listed on Kickstarter? I’d wager anywhere from thousands to a million. I doubt that it’s even conceivably possible for the people managing the site to conduct an in-depth review of every project, and certainly not practical.

    Kickstarter’s not the one funding any of the projects; they’re just a place to list them. Blaming them for this is like blaming Craigslist for the fact that there are creeps on Craiglist, or blaming YouTube for the state of YouTube commentators. When you open sites up to billions of people, some of those people are going to be assholes.

  • Jennifer DePrey

    I think what gets me, really, is the over 700 people that backed the project.

  • Blake

    Kickstarter has an entire team dedicated to reviewing projects, I had to wait a little over a week before finding out I was rejected on the basis that my goal is to create a website as part of a web video series. Meanwhile others have projects that get funded where they state they’re going to give coupons out for future use on their website.

    Their choice of projects to allow are questionable as is, my project is designed to bring awareness and transparency to potential crowdfunding scams.

    Kickstarter never acknowledged the fact that I suffered a serious case of defamation by one of their scammers after having helped reveal that it was a scam.

    I switched to Indie GoGo because of that and also because of the ATG funding.

    http://igg.me/at/crowdfundtransparency/x/787966

  • http://www.tinypinkrobots.com/ Rori

    This has completely turned me off to Kickstarter. I won’t be supporting them if this stands. It’s interesting they haven’t put forth anything “official” (unless that’s something breaking I’m unaware of), I don’t know if I should hope this means they’re trying to buy time or if they’re just hoping to wait out the storm.

    Either way Kickstarter’s silence is very frustrating.

    It’s also a really awful position in which to put the legit folks who are in the midst of campaigns for all the varies wonders that crowd-funded. I also find it hard to believe that their hands were tied, since I remember a clause that they can basically end a campaign for any reason whatsoever scaring me when I started mine. Though why not stand for something better?

    Though I’m not without hope, dismaying as this is. I’ve seen so many people speak up, people who didn’t have to (including pros like Steve Niles), and currently two of my comic lady friends are putting together an anthology of experiences with rape culture (here’s the link, if anyone is interested: zesbian.tumblr.com/post/53421729947/eggshells-a-womens-rape-culture-comic-anthology , not to be spammy).

    And I can imagine that indiegogo is going over it’s TOS with the finest of combs right now.

  • TKS

    That would be all well and good except for a couple of things:

    1. Kickstarter is aware of this particular project. They received complaints, have seen the petition, and even responded to the concerns on this specific project. If you think that checking up on a particular project is impossible for Kickstarter because they have so many projects to fund, THEN WHY EVEN HAVE GUIDELINES IN THE FIRST PLACE! Of course Kickstarter is able to look into specific projects, especially since other people have brought this up to them. They’ve seen the Reddit material, they just don’t think it’s classified as “hate speech”

    2. Kickstarter is the investment broker here. Without the website, the project either a) doesn’t get funded or b) has to go to another site who would make a similar decision. Kickstarter and Craigslist aren’t the same sort of service, since Craigslist posters have to broker money transfers themselves. Yeah, “Open a website to the public and there will be assholes…” But Kickstarter explicitly states in their guidelines that they are attempting to moderate the projects listed on their site and, as the other reply points out, they are doing so. You don’t have to necessarily blame a parent if their child makes a racist or sexist school project. You do have to blame them if they put it on the fridge.

  • http://www.tinypinkrobots.com/ Rori

    The brunt of the outrage isn’t directed at Kickstarter for not finding the problem in the first place, but for not dealing with it when it was pointed out.

  • TKS

    They did e-mail Casey, who released the e-mail. It basically said “We think this thing is terrible, but it doesn’t violate our policies.”

  • http://www.tinypinkrobots.com/ Rori

    Yeah, I read that. It just seems so…unprofessional? When people are asking me on twitter for links to the KS statement, I have to say, “well, they just emailed this thing to the guy that busted them…” It’s just…sketchy.

  • http://www.tinypinkrobots.com/ Rori

    Total agreement. Why not say “hey, we’re investigating.” I’d be cool with that.

  • http://www.tinypinkrobots.com/ Rori

    This is from the TOS, in case anyone is wondering:

    “Kickstarter reserves the right to reject, cancel, interrupt, remove, or
    suspend a campaign at any time and for any reason. Kickstarter is not
    liable for any damages as a result of any of those actions.
    Kickstarter’s policy is not to comment on the reasons for any of those
    actions.”

  • http://www.tinypinkrobots.com/ Rori
  • http://www.widdershinscomic.com/ Kate A

    Kickstarter automatically holds the funds of a project for 14 days after the campaign ends, so they do have a window in which to take action.

  • http://www.widdershinscomic.com/ Kate A

    Please don’t be put off Kickstarter as a whole, there’s a ton of awesome comics and such on there too. It’d be a shame for an excellent and extremely helpful platform for creators to be undermined by awful people.

  • http://www.tinypinkrobots.com/ Rori

    I was one of those, and I’m done. I’ll also be encouraging all my creator friends to find a new venue for their crowdfunding. This is a case where a company has (apparently) made a bad decision knowing full well what it entails. I feel no obligation to lend my name and give my money to a company who feels that way, regardless of past merit. I’m not supporting their decision, that means not giving them one more dime of my money; it’s that important to me.

    The people that are truly undermining Kickstarter are the people who work there who made the decision to fund this book (apparently).

    Edit: if others have a different view, that is that. I will still try to convince them, but I know not everyone is as passionate about this.

  • http://spiderine.livejournal.com/ Arania

    I think the book is repugnant. However, the author is well within his First Amendment rights to publish it and seek backing via Kickstarter. Kickstarter has no responsibility for the content of the book and as long as the content presented on the fundraising page is not offensive or dangerous, has no reason to remove the page.

    First Amendment rights are most important when they’re exercised by people you don’t like. That’s why the ACLU defends the Ku Klux Klan. As Voltaire said,”I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

    If you don’t approve of the book, don’t support it and don’t buy it.

  • Anonymous

    There is a difference between exercising your First Amendment rights and encouraging people to assault women.

  • http://www.tinypinkrobots.com/ Rori

    This isn’t using the government to enact laws to ban this book. This is people using their voices to pressure a private company to refuse to facilitate the funding of a work. Citing the first amendment as a reason to just let this slide and not pressure Kickstarter is a gross misunderstanding of what the first amendment entails.

  • http://spiderine.livejournal.com/ Arania

    It’s horrid that his book does this, but it is not illegal. Nobody is forcing anyone to read this book or back its publication. If a person reads it, the choice whether to assault women is on them, not the author.

    You can get Mein Kampf in any reasonable library. Would you advocate removing it?

  • http://spiderine.livejournal.com/ Arania

    True, this is not about the government, and it’s very nice to meet someone who understands the point of “Congress shall make no law”. However, just as we are free to protest funding of the book, the author is equally free to request that same funding.

  • Anonymous

    Bad advice is a recipe for a stain-remover that doesn’t work. When your recipe produces toxic fumes and poisons people, it’s not just bad advice – it’s criminal assholery.

  • Anonymous

    I find it very interesting that your defense of this project involves comparing it to Mein Kampf.

  • http://spiderine.livejournal.com/ Arania

    Absolutely! As I said, I find the very idea of the book disgusting and unconscionable. I was trying to think of the very worst book I could compare it to. I’m truly sorry if I Godwin’d.

  • Anonymous

    And the Kickstarter is free to tell him to take his business elsewhere, because his project breaks their guidelines (not the content on their site, but the final product which will be created with their participation).

  • http://www.tinypinkrobots.com/ Rori

    Yay! I tire of seeing the popular argument that protest is infringing on 1st amendment rights. Though I find the author particularly vile, it’s is up to the legal system to determine if what he is advocating is protected (always a gray area), I myself am not so sure if it is (though it probably is). I DO know that I expect more out of Kickstarter, and have been incredibly heartened by the vocal reaction against its funding this book.

  • http://spiderine.livejournal.com/ Arania

    True, but from what I’ve read about Kickstarter’s TOS, they are not *obliged* to do this.

    Also. the final product is not created with the participation of Kickstarter, any more than something sold on Ebay is created with that site’s participation.

  • http://spiderine.livejournal.com/ Arania

    Thank you.

  • Anonymous

    Let me put it this way – if I’m a private business owner, let’s say I have a cafe or a grocery store, and a guy comes in, pukes on the floor, yells racial slurs at the customers and asks me if I’d like to see his dong, I’m not *obliged* by law to throw him and his dickishness out, but I sure as hell should. If I don’t, my other customers will be rightly angry not only at the obnoxious bastard, but also at me.

    And about Ebay – are you honestly going to argue that an intermediary should completely ignore what kind of deal they help facilitate? If so, then why can’t you buy yourself a new kidney on Ebay, organize a DIY bomb-making convention at your local conference centre or put 10 million dollars of drug money in your bank account?

  • Penny Marie Sautereau

    It’s not censorship for a private company to choose NOT to allow repugnant material to be promoted through their site. Freedom of Speech may give the right to write and publish that horrifying awful book, but it doesn’t command anyone to facilitate that publishing.

  • http://spiderine.livejournal.com/ Arania

    As I said, I think the book is disgusting. I certainly would throw the guy out of my cafe. If I don’t, my other customers certainly would get angry at me. But it’s my choice whether or not to throw him out, and my customer’s choice to take their business elsewhere. It’s Kickstarter’s choice whether to take the book’s fundraiser off the site, and they have chosen not to. That’s the end of the question as far as I’m concerned.

    As for your examples: trafficking in body organs is illegal. People put 10 million of drug money in accounts all the time (overseas etc). And it is perfectly legal to organize a DIY bomb-making convention; it’s the conference center’s choice whether or not they will allow you to.

  • http://spiderine.livejournal.com/ Arania

    It doesn’t command them *not* to facilitate that publishing either.

  • Guest

    Kickstarter better be careful if this somehow gets into the mainstream press. I can imagine a headline, and it’s not flattering.

  • stopdropreload

    You obviously didn’t read the excerpts – he’s not emphasizing that “no means no”. He’s emphasizing that “sometimes no means no, but usually it means yes, so you should continue harassing and physically intimidating a woman until she gives in.” He is telling men that unless a woman fights back, that she really wants it – ignoring (or, more likely, taking advantage of) the fact that physical intimidation and sexual aggression can often lead women to sexually comply out of fear. That’s not about confidence, that’s about exploitation and coercion. That’s the sort of advice that leads to rape.

    I was sexually assaulted in college, and my attacker used the exact same tactics being described in this book – to the point where I wonder of he’s a member of this subreddit. I didn’t want to be treated that way – I was afraid of him, so I let him do things to me that I was not comfortable with. The worst part is that afterwards, I blamed myself for not being able to make him understand that I meant it when I said “no.” I blamed myself for lacking the assertiveness to push him off of me. It took me a long time to realize that it didn’t matter what I said, he didn’t have the right to touch me like that in the first place.

    The truth is, if someone says no, you need to back off. The truth is, you don’t have the right to touch someone sexually unless they have given you permission. Period.

  • Anonymous

    You’re making some assumptions about the content of the book that are clearly disproved in the linked blog post. Such as this charming excerpt:

    “Pull out your cock and put her hand on it. Remember, she is letting
    you do this because you have established yourself as a LEADER. Don’t ask
    for permission, GRAB HER HAND, and put it right on your dick.”

    ^^^This is sexual assault. It doesn’t just fail to emphasize “no means no”, it actively tells the reader not to get permission. It’s certainly “bad advice” in that it’s encouraging someone to commit a crime. Other words one might use are “disturbing” and “deeply negligent”.

  • stopdropreload

    If it makes you feel better, I signed a petition for Kickstarter not to fund this project that had over nine thousand signatures and counting, the majority of which seemed to be from dudes. There are a lot more people who think this is reprehensible than there are people who support this project.

  • Jess

    > The question is, how should Kickstarter address their policies to prevent this kind of issue from arising again?
    Actually, considering that Kickstarter just promoted and became a vehicle to fund $16,000 to a project that “encourages the harmful treatment of women,” AND was warned and IGNORED people like yourself and the over 49,000 people petitioning for Kickstarter to revoke the funding, I think the QUESTION is actually “How financially liable is Kickstarter for future harm to women resulting from this project, and should they be allowed to continue as a business, since they are collecting funding for and promoting projects that encourage VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN?!”

  • stopdropreload

    Considering how much steam this story has picked up just over the past 24 hours, I won’t be surprised if it starts to get mainstream media attention.

  • paul

    I agree with Rori’s comment above. It’s not about First Amendment rights, it’s about whether or not a private company that has clearly stated it will ban projects it finds offensive should ban a project it has stated it finds offensive. Should Mein Kampf be in a library? Maybe. But I’d be pretty angry at any company that paid Hitler to write it.

  • paul

    Also: please don’t tell people whether or not they’re allowed to get upset about things.

  • http://spiderine.livejournal.com/ Arania

    Kickstarter did not pay the author of this book. Kickstarter has issued its stance on this particular project, and the project is already fully funded so the point is moot. What’s of interest now is how Kickstarter handles this type of thing in the future.

  • paul

    You’re right about who’s paying for Hoinsky to publish his book. I realized that as soon as hit the post button and I apologize for making it seem like Kickstarter as a company is giving him money.

    That said, the thing that makes me furious is not that they’re ignoring their own Terms of Service, but that they’re actually saying “we find this project repugnant” AND letting it go through. They are trying to have this situation both ways. To the thousands of us who are angry, they’re saying, “we know, we feel the same way.” To the hundreds who backed the project, they’re saying, “this project is okay by us.”

    Kickstarter is a private company. They have a right to stand behind or ban whatever projects they choose. They may have chosen to support this project because they feel as strongly about the author’s First Amendment rights as you do. But I feel that the public has a right to know if that’s the case before we decide if Kickstarter is the sort of company we want to support. As of today, they’re not telling, and I will continue to be part of the chorus demanding that they do.

  • http://spiderine.livejournal.com/ Arania

    I’m part of that chorus as well! I’ve signed a petition and am following this issue with great interest. I wonder how/whether Kickstarter will change their policies in the future.

  • Anonymous

    And that matters because…? Are you saying that a company can’t (or just shouldn’t) refuse to do anything, unless it’s forbidden to do it by law?

    Seriously, I don’t understand what your point is here. You say you signed the petition and the book is horrible, and then you try to build some convoluted argument that… Well, I don’t know really. Something something, free speech, First Amendment, the letter of the law.

    This is not a freedom of speech issue!

  • Anonymous

    Okay, so what’s your argument here? If it’s not illegal, they can’t say no? Or maybe – we, the supporters of Kickstarter, should shut up and “take our business elsewhere”, because it’s not our company and we have no say here? Or simply – every business can do the thing that makes them lose customers, if they so choose?

  • http://spiderine.livejournal.com/ Arania

    I am saying that Kickstarter is not compelled nor required to do anything one way or the other. The issue of whether the book fundraiser violates the Kickstarter TOS is the only thing that is debatable in this issue.

    I am making a differentiation between the contents of the book and the issue of whether Kickstarter should allow the author to raise money on its website. To quote Voltaire, “I disagree with what you say, but I defend your right to say it.” I despise the content of this book, yet defend its publication just as I would defend the publication of any other controversial book. Is that a clearer way of saying it?

  • paul

    I think the reason Kickstarter hasn’t made any statements – other than what they said in the email Casey Malone posted – is that they’re hoping this will all be forgotten over the weekend and they can carry on as if it never happened come Monday. This is a common tactic for businesses and governments alike. If they don’t make a statement tomorrow, I’ll be asking them again – loudly and publicly – on Monday.

  • http://spiderine.livejournal.com/ Arania

    What I’m saying is that Kickstarter is not required to say anything one way or the other. Ultimately it’s Kickstarter’s decision whether to allow the fundraiser on its site.

    We do not have to shut up! We can protest, petition, send emails or otherwise make our opinions known to Kickstarter. And we also have the right to take our business elsewhere, just as we would with any other business whose policies we don’t agree with. It’s called “voting with your feet” or your money or your web hits or whatever. In other words, yeah, if Kickstarter wants to do something that will end up losing it business, they can do so.

  • Mina

    It makes me so sad when I find out about men who think that a no doesn’t count unless a woman actually punches them or something. This project is supremely creepy. I do hope Kickstarter changes their mind on funding it.

  • Anonymous

    Okay, sorry, looks like we were having two different discussions here. No wonder we couldn’t agree… You were talking about the right to publish anything, and I was talking about Kickstarter being more than just a company, but also an idea and a kind of contract with the people who support it. And allowing this project to be funded breaks that contract, or at least I see it that way, which is why I’m angry.

  • http://spiderine.livejournal.com/ Arania

    No prob! If I didn’t want to discuss it, I wouldn’t have commented in the first place. Thank you for being so nice to me instead of … well, you know what some sites’ comment threads are like.

  • Laura Truxillo

    “Kickstarter has no responsibility for the content of the book”

    If it exists because of their involvement, they have responsibility.

    Claiming First Amendment on this is like claiming that a publishing company is violating a writer’s First Amendment rights for not publishing his book for whatever reason. The First Amendment means that the government cannot restrict what a person chooses to say or publish. It does not mean that someone is entitled to their published book. And it sure as hell has abso-freaking-lutely no bearing whatsoever on what private companies choose to produce.

  • Laura Truxillo

    Y’know, I’m actually kinda wondering about it, because it feels like a lot of this book could be something along the lines of conspiracy to commit assault. Something ticklish as hell to pin down legally, but it basically tells men to put their hands on another human being sexually, without their permission, repeatedly. A particularly vicious lawyer probably could make a case for this not being protected under the 1st amendment either.

  • RMCoyote

    So, hope for humanity a bit restored. Lets see…

    50,000 divided by 700 = 0.014

    So, those 700 people are currently only 0.014 of the messed up population compared to the 99.98% of awesome people.

    And on another note! Each of those sad, miserable and messed up backers coughed up an average of 22 bucks for a book of shit. Considering they may never get the book for various reasons, and I doubt it will be a hardcover, they have been severely ripped off. Tsk, they could have spent that money on a actual author.

    (Despite being a liberal arts nerd, sometimes math makes me feel better)

  • RMCoyote

    To be fair, they HAVE said they will review their policies. Sometimes a company has to cover their butt because if they block someone when it doesn’t currently violate their policies, then they are liable to be sued. The email struck me as saying ‘we can’t do anything about this one, but will be looking into it and making sure this doesn’t fly in the future.’

    Wait, nvm they have a disclaimer. Sigh. Hopefully they are still looking into it. We’ll see.

  • Jess

    Rori, you can get a link to blog from the guy who got that email, sharing it with more explanation, here: http://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fcaseymalone.com%2Fpost%2F53394156872%2Fhey-everyone-if-youre-here-its-probably&h=NAQEBSNjy

    Kickstarter didn’t post that statement publicly because they KNOW it makes them look like an asshole, AND it’s evidence that could be used to sue them if any women are harmed from this book’s release.

  • Matt Shipman

    Thank you for addressing this issue. By failing to address these concerns, Kickstarter has become a de facto supporter of violence against women. I’ve supported projects on Kickstarter in the past, but will not do so again. I encourage others to do the same. I wrote about the issue here: http://www.scilogs.com/communication_breakdown/kickstarter/

  • Jess

    reviewing their policies is bullshit. they had a chance to revoke this guys funding and they decided to fund him anyway.

    THAT is the problem. Willingly giving money to a book that will encourage men to hurt women! Not their “policies.” THIS BOOK IS ALREADY AGAINST THEIR POLICIES AND THEY FUNDED IT ANYWAY.

  • Anonymous

    Kickstarter profits from each succesfully funded project. Which means they’re profiting from a book that encourages rape and sexual assault. Rori has every right to boycott them. And other creative folk have every right to find another crowdsourcing option. Go whine about “fair” somewhere else.

  • Anonymous

    Kickstarter says they can’t do anything because the offensive material isn’t hosted on their site, but the offensive material is still going to be in a book published with money gained on their site. You’d think they’d want to cover against that. Or hey, just wait for the headlines. “Convicted Rapist Had Kickstarter-Funded Manual on Rape.” That will look good.

    Meanwhile has anyone tried reporting the author to the police/FBI? Or is the evidence too circumstantial to warrant any kind of investigation? Maybe at least see if there have been any complaints lodged against him. Although as abhorrent as he is I wouldn’t be surprised if his book is all talk and he’s too afraid/smart to do it himself.

  • http://www.widdershinscomic.com/ Kate A

    A fuller reply from Kickstarter, as well as an admittance that they were wrong and a donation. http://www.kickstarter.com/blog/we-were-wrong

  • http://www.widdershinscomic.com/ Kate A

    Please don’t punish creators for a transgression on Kickstater’s part! If it helps, they’ve admitted their wrongdoing and donated $25k to RAINN.

    http://www.kickstarter.com/blog/we-were-wrong

  • Katie

    The project has been pulled. If you go to Kickstarter it’s gone– it just happened, I was on the page and then where it says the money raised and number of backers, it changed to say that the project had been removed and was only visible to staff. Upon refreshing it just shows “Sorry, this project is no longer available” GOOD

  • Anonymous

    How’s changing their policies to stop allowing all “seduction” books sound to prevent this kind of stuff in future?

    Because that, $25k to RAINN and more is in their official apology: http://www.kickstarter.com/blog/we-were-wrong

    I think holding Kickstarter financially liable for this kind of thing is kind of extreme. It’s like holding the maker of a brick or hammer responsible for someone using it as a weapon. Kickstarter is a tool, and despite the best effort of the organization behind it, it was used in the wrong way this time. It may happen in future, it’s possible, but I’d say they deserve some credit for at least trying to prevent it.

  • Anonymous

    At least according to their blog post, they had two hours before funding was complete: http://www.kickstarter.com/blog/we-were-wrong
    Not a huge window with which to do something.

  • Matt Shipman

    It’s not punishing creators. There are more than 150 crowdfunding sites to choose from.

  • Jess

    I am pretty happy with their promise to ban all seduction guides in the future, and donating $25,000 now to “combats exactly the sort of problems our inaction may have encouraged.” (Kickstarter’s words from their apology letter). Kickstarter realized they were promoting harm by funding that book. And the American court system can EASILY sue someone for those kind of damages. All I would have to do is encourage any woman assaulted in the year following that books release to report if she knew her attacker had read or heard about the book. Then collect all those complaints, and file a class-action lawsuit against the book’s author AND Kickstarter for mental and physical suffering. Glad Kickstarter decided to take quick action to minimize their harm and responsibility up front so that kind of long-term battle wasn’t necessary.
    Saying that all future seduction guides are banned from recieving Kickstarter funding is a strong message that this attitude towards women is not acceptable. And the $25,000 payment can help undo any harm they might have already caused by giving funding to that book.

  • http://www.tinypinkrobots.com/ Rori
  • http://www.tinypinkrobots.com/ Rori
  • Erick

    Most seduction/dating books have this exact same information in them. And it works. That is the sad part about this whole debacle. You may be horrified and sickened by the language or methods used in this material but the techniques work. And not only on emotionally scarred women or complete idiots. Most women respond positively to these exact same methods. A guy has probably used several of these on you ladies and you probably never realized it. Sad but true.

  • jerry blacksmith

    That’s just Gunwitch Method/Seduction MMA tactics from the pickup community. Old hat, nothing controversial here except a guy trying to repackage well known stuff as his own.

  • stopdropreload

    I have had a guy use these techniques on me. He used them to assault me and coerce me into doing things I didn’t want to do. I am still unable to trust men because of it.

    You are right that the sad part in all of this is that these techniques are widely known and used. What’s even sadder is people excusing them because “it works,” and claiming that “women respond positively to these exact same methods” without stopping to consider that maybe women respond “positively” (i.e., with sex) because they feel afraid, or intimidated, or because they have been socialized to comply with sexual aggression. You don’t have be “emotionally scarred” or a “complete idiot” to be pressured into sexual activity. You just have to feel backed into a corner.

    When techniques like those being advocated in this “seduction” guide are commonplace, it’s not hard to figure out why one in four women will be victims of rape or attempted rape.

  • Erick

    That is what I am talking about. You shouldn’t be afraid to say no but you are. Society has conditioned people to think that no means yes or just not right now. Most men that I know don’t use these techniques but then they are always striking out with women. The guys who do use the techniques go home with them. It is as if both parties know it is wrong but one complies out of fear and the other out of desperation. What has our society come too?

  • stopdropreload

    Erick – well, perhaps instead of wringing your hands about what society has come to, you could do something about it?

    I’m skeptical of anyone who blames the victim, however obliquely, by shrugging their shoulders and saying ‘Well, but it’s what women respond to.’ You seem to understand that these techniques are wrong, that they amount to coercion, and that when faced with an aggressive partner women are often afraid to say no. At the same time you seem to think that women are complicit in their victimization – that they should know better, that they bear the blame for being afraid. It is almost like you think that the aggressor and the victim are just roles people play, rather than the active and intentional violation of one’s personal security by the other.

    It is easy to tell people that they shouldn’t be afraid – and to judge them when they are still controlled by fear. After all, women know that it’s wrong, right?

    Yeah. They know. They blame themselves for being afraid. They blame themselves for lacking confidence. They blame themselves for “letting” the man treat them that way. They turn all the anger they should be directing towards their attacker on themselves. They feel ashamed for being afraid. And they keep all that hurt and anger and shame bottled up inside them, because the worst thing that can happen is that other people find out and judge them for being afraid.

    But it’s not their fault.

    The fault lies with the person that made them afraid. Who used fear as a tool to get what they wanted. And who will keep using fear as a tool so long as there are those who simply shrug their shoulders and say “well, but she chose to go home with him. The ends justify the means. It’s not my problem if she was afraid. She should know better, anyway.”

    Don’t be that person.

  • http://www.widdershinscomic.com/ Kate A

    Kickstarter is the largest by far, though. When I ran my project last year, the stats showed that quite a lot of funding came from people simply browsing kickstarter and happening across it, rather than pre-established fans. Places like indie go go simply don’t get the same amount of traffic and attention.

    Obviously I respect your opinion and understand it, I’m just saying that as someone who’s career in comics has been and hopefully will later be boosted by Kickstarter, it’s a shame that me and hundreds of others like me are collateral damage.

  • http://www.widdershinscomic.com/ Kate A

    Yeah, looks like it goes through Amazon Payments for those two weeks, my bad. I’m in the UK and they don’t use them for our projects, so I didn’t realise!

    A hold process would have been a great idea, looks like they’re learning from this mess, at least.

  • Erick

    Fear is used everyday to get people to do things. It is the the greatest motivator besides love and even love loses out a lot. Fear of the unknown drives people to religion, war, and many other things. It is in human nature to be afraid. People call this coercion nowadays and call it evil and get mad at men who do it and the women who succumb to it. You are being coerced everyday though. Ad companies certainly violate the sanctity of your own brain by using the psychological predispositions we already have. Are you offended by this? You damn well should be.

    Do you not relish the rush of meeting someone new or a one night stand? These techniques trigger physiological responses in us that are barely in our control. Rape is a very violent thing and people who call this rape are watering that term down. And yes ALL parties are responsible for their actions. If you don’t want to have sex with some dude don’t allow yourself to be put into that situation. Certainly don’t spend time alone with him. Don’t go out and get so drunk you can barely walk either. Sexual predators see women like that as easy pickings. We are men and if you are even a somewhat attractive woman we will try to sleep with you. Our bodies want to have fun. It is our minds that feel guilty later. And alcohol certainly doesn’t help.

    By the way the quote is “One must consider the final result.” Machiavelii said it. It has been somewhat bastardized in today’s world.

  • Erick

    Well a knee to the groin usually works better than a punch but I get where you are coming from. Lol. People rarely ever hear no in our world nowadays so it has almost lost all meaning.