UPDATE: Kickstarter has issued an apology. It is available in full here. All the credit for this goes to DoSomething.org and their supporters. I can’t wait to see what they do next!
I know we haven’t talked in a minute. You must admit that we’ve had a complicated relationship. I loved you from afar when you kept your crowdfunding gate closed to nonprofits. Still, even then, I celebrated the beautiful art that was able to be funded on your site that may have failed to secure funding elsewhere. Then the heavens opened up, the skies parted and for the first time you decided to allow nonprofits raise money on your site. I couldn’t have been happier! Since then, I try and stop by every now and again to support documentaries like “White Like Me” that promote critical race theory or the “The Monument Quilt by FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture”. (Hell, I even came over to donate to Midas Whale after they got kicked off the Voice).
You were the one who launched @femfreq into the stratosphere when people rallied around Anita Sarkeesian after she was viciously attacked. In that moment, you gave people like me an outlet to support one of our allies who had come under fire from gamers and trolls with little to no respect for a woman in “their space”. So you have to imagine my shock when you started showing up on my Twitter feed because my friends at DoSomething.org were calling for signatures for a petition against you. I know that Do Something doesn’t activate their incredible and powerful network of passionate young people unless there is a compelling reason. And sure enough, there was. Your site, your beautiful platform that provides opportunity for so many, was providing funding for a man by the name of Ken Hoinsky who had penned a manual that he called “Above the Game: A Guide to Getting Awesome with Women“. He might was well have called it “Above the Rules: A Guide to Completely Violating Consent, Respect and Common Decency”. Someone was able to grab excerpts of this “manual” and I have to say that they are not for the faint of heart. Here are just a couple of examples of the gems that Hoinsky offers (TRIGGER WARNING):
“Decide that you’re going to sit in a position where you can rub her leg and back. Physically pick her up and sit her on your lap. Don’t ask for permission. Be dominant. Force her to rebuff your advances.”
“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.” (– Source)
So of course I signed DoSomething.org’s petition. The least that I could do was put my name next to the tens of thousands of others who were standing up to say that this was completely unacceptable and demanding that you pull the project before the funding was dispersed. Given the success of the #FBRape campaign and other quick calls to action lately, I had every hope that you would listen to the voices of 50,000+ supporters who found Hoinsky’s book repulsive. So when DoSomething.org showed up at your doorstep with stacks of signatures, I thought you’d let them in, pour them a cup of coffee and hear them out. That’s the decent thing to do right? Instead, you turned them away and then responded to blogger Casey Malone, who had raised the objections in the first place, with the following statement:
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.
Now as a recovering J-School graduate, I am a huge believer in the First Amendment. However, how can you call the project abhorrent and not realize that it should be considered hate speech? At best, your decision is puzzling. At worst, it is a tacit endorsement of the rape culture that exists in our country. An endorsement of the rape culture that raises men to believe that women are theirs for the taking. An endorsement of the rape culture that fosters the horrific number of sexual assaults that take place in our country YEAR after YEAR! That is unacceptable.
I’ve been trying to figure out what I could do besides writing this open letter and encouraging people to go sign the DoSomething.org petition that you summarily rejected. I don’t really want to encourage a boycott of your site because that would harm all the wrong people. What I am going to do is this:
I’m going to encourage everyone I know to donate to The Monument Quilt by FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture before their deadline of 11:50 AM on June 22nd (tomorrow). They’ve already met their goal. They are going to be funded. However, just imagine how much good could be done if they exceeded their goal by 50% or even doubled it. We have the power to do that. We have the power to show that Kickstarter isn’t only a platform for promoting the mistreatment of women and the violation of consent. We can show that Kickstarter is the type of platform where we can promote a positive message of prevention. I think that the least you can do is:
a) donate the percentage of money that you received from the pledges to “Above the Game” to the Monument Quilt campaign;
b) waive the fee you would take from the Monument Quilt campaign;
c) and promote the Monument Quilt as a “Staff Pick” on your site.
Maybe then, Kickstarter, you and I can start to repair the damage you’ve done to our relationship.