Jim C. Hines Cancels Reddit AMA

Jim Hines, author of a whole bunch of fantasy novels I have never read, recently decided against participating in an “ask me anything” session on Reddit, an online community known as much for narwhals and bacon as misogyny, rape apologia, and men’s rights activism. Oh, and Anderson Cooper. And memes. Lots and lots of memes.

I was initially distraught at the idea that an author, even one I am personally unfamiliar with, would deprive the generally good-natured Reddit community of an opportunity to ask what sort of operating system Mr. Hines uses, but after reading his explanation, I side with Mr. Hines.

I read the Reddit thread in question last week, before various blogs (like Shakesville — a blog you should be reading) picked up the story, and couldn’t bring myself to write my thoughts on the subject simply because they were so complicated. Mr. Hines writes very clearly what I liked and did not like about the thread in question and why he cannot participate in his scheduled AMA.

From his post:

“It is important that we understand why people rape. But there are other ways to find that insight. Books, essays, research, and more. I’ve spoken with rapists and batterers, and it did give me a better understanding as to how this crime happens. But the circumstances of those conversations were very different. They were controlled, with people who had been convicted and held accountable for their actions. People who, as far as I could tell, appeared to genuinely regret what they had done. In situations where excuses were not tolerated.”

And from Shakesville: “If one in twenty guys (or more) is a real and true rapist, and you have any amount of social activity with other guys like yourself, then it is almost a statistical certainty that one time hanging out with friends and their friends, playing Halo with a bunch of guys online, in a WoW guild, in a pick-up game of basketball, at a bar, or elsewhere, you were talking to a rapist. Not your fault. You can’t tell a rapist apart any better than anyone else can. It’s not like they announce themselves.

…It’s very likely that in some of these interactions with these guys … someone told a rape joke. …[Y]ou laughed.

Or maybe you didn’t laugh. …[M]aybe you just didn’t say anything at all.

And, decent guy who would never condone rape, who would step in and stop rape if he saw it, who understands that rape is awful and wrong and bad, when you laughed? When you were silent?

That rapist who was in the group with you, …he felt validated, and he felt he was among his comrades. “

Is the Reddit thread in question, as Hines suggests, a “how-to guide” for rapists? Possibly. Or is it a way for some rape survivors to gain closure? Definitely a possibility. Could it be, as I felt when I read the thread, a way to gain insight into the minds of criminals? Yes. It could. But the risks far outweigh the benefits.

Someone reading this thread could think rape is okay. Someone could feel he is “among his comrades.” And I applaud Hines for not only walking away, but stating clearly and effectively that he will not participate in this community and this thread is not okay.

But go read it for yourself. And maybe buy one of his books.

Blog: Why I Cancelled my Reddit Q&A

22 thoughts on “Jim C. Hines Cancels Reddit AMA

  1. I find it very interesting that this post has considerably fewer comments than what I usually see on other freshly pressed blogs. I guess it means you may not have moderated them all, or “social justice” issues just don’t get as much traction…

    • I think it’s a little bit of both, honestly, but I’m not worried. I do admit that I need to spend more time on the analysis side rather than become another content aggregator, but thank you very much for stopping by regardless!

  2. I’m glad to learn about this controversy. I knew nothing about it and would have to agree with you, from what I’ve read above. Also, congrats on Freshly Pressed! Hang on for the ride. I promise it will be crazy fun–happened to me twice. Take care!
    Hugs,
    Kathy

  3. I stupidly had a read of some of that thread after clicking on linkes in an article that led some of the worst comments. Was sickeningly awful and I felt dirty, twisted and violated just for having read those few. I’ve had my share of sexual abuse, but never actually been raped – so can only imagine how utterly defeated someone who has actually experienced the full horror of what was revealed in that thread would have felt. I think that thread should be required reading for men who don’t understand why rape jokes are not OK; for everyone else, it should be off-limits. We don’t need to know why rapists rape us, we need them to stop doing it. And one of the best ways for this to be achieved is for those who tolerate low-level abuse to stamp that out and stop making rapists feel like it’s not really that bad. Sorry for the novel on this – great post making important points.

    • Thanks for leaving a comment. I don’t mind that it’s novel-length at all! I read a majority of the thread because, apparently, my curiosity knows no bounds. While I did learn something from it, it sickened me more than educated, and I kept waiting for the onslaught of “This is not okay” comments. That never happened. What you saw instead were rape apologists, sycophants with their comments of, “Oh, I’m sure it wasn’t that bad for her,” and one comment in particular that showed no remorse for his actions. In fact, the glee demonstrated in getting away with it, remaining a community figure and hiding behind a throwaway, was stunningly awful. We should talk about rape. We should talk about why people rape. But we should not apologize for rapists.

    • Reddit is, for the most part, only nominally moderated — largely to prevent the posting of personal information and spam. I don’t think Reddit is at fault here; I think Jim C. Hines chose not to participate in his scheduled AMA out of protest for those who apologized for rapists. Who IS at fault is an interesting question. Do Reddit moderators have an obligation to filter disturbing threads? Who determines that line? Thank you for commenting!

  4. “And, decent guy who would … step in and stop rape if he saw it … ”

    Yeah yeah, and everyone says they would have hidden Jews in their attic, too.

  5. Good for him! The Reddit thread was horrific; it felt like bragging to me. Then to see Jezebel supporting it was disheartening. As Mr. Hines said, there are other ways to learn about how people rape.

    • It did feel like bragging! It was awful! Not only was it bragging, it was giving others a space for cheering on a rapist. It was so unbelieveably twisted. You know it’s bad when even one of the rapists had to tell everyone upvoting him to knock it off. He knew what he did was wrong.

  6. I just find Reddit to be a very overwhelming website! I don’t understand it very well. It’s like a message board (which I’ve been a member of in the past) but everything is very scattered and confusing (to me). I know there are categories of threads but everything always seems to degenerate into flaming, spam, and complete chaos.

    I also understand why Mr. Hines canceled his Reddit Q&A and I’m glad he did!

    • I was in the same boat until I discovered RES! It’s an add-on that lets you navigate the subreddits with a little more ease and, in whole, makes Reddit a thoroughly less aggravating place. But there are still vast areas of Reddit that are just so unfriendly to women. It’s a shame it takes so many filters to weed out the flaming, spam, and those hideous rage comics.

    • I so agree with you when you say Reddit is overwhelming and also incoherent. Given that it is populated largely by rape apologists and misogynists, isn’t that expected?

      • I don’t think Reddit is populated by rape apologists and misogynists, just like it’s not a haven for pedophiles, despite Anderson Cooper’s best efforts to expose the site as such. I think rape apologists and misogynists tend to congregate in spaces where there are no social consequences for their heinous beliefs.

        When you ask for the perspective of rapists, you’re going to get misogynists. (I’m no expert, but I believe the two are rather inter-related. It takes an healthy amount of misogyny to be a rapist.) But when you create a thread about awesome weather patterns, kickball leagues, and r/twoxchromosomes’ favorite subject of no-heat curls, you get a completely different number of participants. Hating Reddit is, for me, the equivalent of hating the Internet.

  7. There are many bad things that people do to each other. I no longer have the interest in delving into ones that do not touch me personally. It is not uncommon for personal research to have a negative effect on you. You can’t unread, unsee, unexperience things. While I don’t advocate putting your head in the sand, I also don’t recommend reading just any old thing. I understand why he wouldn’t want to participate. These sorts of things really do devolve quickly and despite what people may tell themselves it really can affect you in ways you may have never imagined.

  8. Good for him. I deeply dislike Reddit and refuse to participate in any conversations there. Congrats on being Fresh Pressed.

  9. Reddit creeps me out. It’s so scary to know these people are out there. Honestly even “checking it out” bc of idle curiosity is a mistake.

  10. Reblogged this on The Ramblings of a Black Feminist and commented:
    This is an interesting post. I am glad Hines canceled his Reddit Q&A. As much as I like Reddit to cure my boredom, that rapist thread made me sick to my stomach. Why anyone would apology or congratulate rapists coming forward is beyond me. The people who should be congratulated are the victims for surviving and coming forward when they feel ready. Claiming that you’ve gone into an animalistic trance an couldn’t stop raping someone does not justify or okay a rape. It’s rape. It’s disgusting. It’s a violation of a person’s body. It ruins lives.

    We need more people to boycott and speak out against the misogynist people on Reddit and other social networking and news sites. It makes me sad that Reddit is such a hostile environment for female users and their allies.

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