Friday, 29 March 2013

In case you thought this was just about the rules...

Reading up on the wider response to Mackenzie Wilson’s Kickstarter is a really lonely feeling—it seems like the general consensus is that Susan Wilson is a terrible person, possibly a fraudster, ought to have just paid her daughter’s fees, and certainly shouldn’t have used/encouraged her daughter to use Kickstarter to fund it. The more I read, the more I begin to doubt my own point of view, but it’s not out of any sense of actually having been incorrect, but simply that the voices who oppose my viewpoint are incredibly overwhelming.

But then I catch sight of one of the worst of the replies, and I remember just what my viewpoint was.

I’m not passing judgment on the legitimacy of the Kickstarter. I’ve already pointed out that at least one of the arguments against the project itself is clearly unfounded. The fundraising part of the project isn’t even over; if you want to call foul about the project just being about tuition, you really have to wait until it’s clear the finished product—the video game—will never be delivered.

But the active hate and misogyny that’s being unleashed against the Wilsons is, frankly, sickening. Let’s say, just for the sake of argument, that the Kickstarter is an outright scam. The camp doesn’t exist (or Mackenzie isn’t going), and no one will ever see the game or any of the associated swag. Even if that worst-case scenario were, true, it doesn’t change the fact that I want one of those “I code like a girl” mousepads for the office. It doesn’t change the fact that the project is inspiring me to be even more vocal in my support for women in tech.

And it sure doesn’t justify some of these comments. I’ll grant that what’s visible on the Kickstarter thread, as well as the more carefully moderated news articles, is fairly civil. In fact, it’s mostly an argument between various commentors at this point. There’s a great deal of condescension and ad hominem attacks toward Susan, don’t get me wrong, but the actual insults… well, those appear in spades on Reddit. Huffington Post mentions in their coverage that there have been death threats. I grabbed a fairly representative sample. I started out on Kickstarter, then went to Huffington Post, Destructoid, and ended it out on Reddit. Mercifully, I never found the death threats.

What is heartening, however, is this deconstruction of all the arguments against the project, which follows 100% with my line of thinking:

I think some people need a few points clarified.
Point one: This project is not a violation of Kickstarter rules, if you actually read them. According to the KS guidelines:
“A project has a clear goal, like making an album, a book, or a work of art. A project will eventually be completed, and something will be produced by it. A project is not open-ended. Starting a business, for example, does not qualify as a project.”
Mackenzie has proposed a goal of creating a game, and has worked out the project budget based on the training and equipment that will help her do so. Not just for the sake of the training. So clearly, this is not a “fund my life” item.
Point two: the fact that Kenzie is under 18 does not make the project ineligible. According to the KS eligibility guidelines:
“Parents and teachers can launch projects in collaboration with children under 18 only if the adult registers for the Kickstarter and payments accounts and is in charge of running the project itself.”
So, not breaking the rules there either.
Point three: anyone who has been complaining about Susan & Kenzie not ending the project early once the goal was met clearly didn't bother to check this part of the rules:
“If a project reaches its funding goal before time expires, projects continue to accept pledges until the funding deadline. There is no option to end a project early.”
Cancel, yes. End early, no. And really, why should they cancel the whole project just because a few noisy people tell them to? Especially since those same people have already made it clear that they only pledged to be able to post rude, disrespectful and inconsiderate comments, and do not plan to honor their pledges. Perhaps it's worth reviewing what a pledge entails?
Point four: According to the KS Backer Questions section:
“By pledging, you are committing to supporting that person’s project; canceling that commitment is discouraged. If you must cancel, visit the project page and click “Manage Your Pledge.” At the bottom of the next page you’ll see the “Cancel Pledge” button.”
Enough said on that.
Point five: If you are truly still worried about whether this project violates Kickstarter rules, even though they state that projects are reviewed at the start to be sure they meet guidelines, here is what KS says to do:
“If you see a project that you believe violates the Project Guidelines or Terms of Use, the best way to let us know is with the "Report this project" button at the bottom of the project page.”
Funny, I don't see anything in there about faking a pledge in order to post endless comments nagging at the project creator to cancel it, and nagging at backers to cancel pledges.
Point six: because clearly it bears repeating - right below where you need to type in your comment:
“Be respectful and considerate.”
Does anyone need definitions of those terms as well?
And in case anyone is actually wondering:
I am not Susan.
I don't know Susan. Or Mackenzie. But she sounds like a fun kid to know.
I don't plan to cancel my pledge. Because it's a pledge. As in, a promise to support Mackenzie's goal. Not because I desperately wanted to buy a new RPG (though I look forward to seeing what she creates), but because after reading through the project goals & information, and looking at the website for the camp, I felt it was a project worth supporting. I still do.
And if I'm going to be suspicious of anything, it is links to websites that have lots of nasty, hateful information and no actual references except to OTHER websites with nasty, hateful information.
So, please - if you're actually concerned about the project, why not follow the actual Kickstarter policy and contact them directly?
Let's all play nice, shall we?
– Angela Reese

Trigger warning: open misogyny, anti-feminist sentiment, bog-standard MRA bullshit, idle vague threats, comparisons to child prostitution, violent fantasies

  • “This KS was set up by Susan Wilson to cash-in big time USING the dream of her daughter, and by turning it a pseudo-feminist sob story that resonates with naive whiteknights. People fund this KS not because they want the product, they think by throwing money at this KS they fight sexism (when it is actually detrimental to the feminist cause in this case” –Henrik
  • Kenzie is 9 years old and it's against the TOS for someone so young to use this website. The mom is the one in charge of this project and is outing her sons behavior online. To strangers mind you. What kind of parenting is that? She's shaming her own children online and worst of all, profiting off of it!
    The mom is being attacked for multitudes of reasons, all of which are just. Anyone who defends her/supports her behavior is just as guilty as she is for being a scammer/horrible parent.
    Go back to your basement, adults are talking (for the record, white knights never get laid).” –Quellcrist Falconer
  • “I fully expect Susan to go full Anita Sarkeesian now by e-mailing media outlets telling them that she had to take down the Youtube video because of mean comments towards her daughter. That'll skyrocket the amount of money coming to her because internet feminists eat that sort of thing up. It's sad that this is the thing that finally gets me to sign up for Kickstarter which is a great tool for the gaming industry but is getting bogged down by blatantly obvious scams like this. I've been following along at neogaf and a lot of this stuff is just appalling.” –Justin
  • “This was not about it being a worthy cause it was about playing on misandrist hatred of men to make a buck. The bar was set low so that she could pocket all the left over money. She was most likely thinking to clear 100k free with her heinous selling pitch of making her sons demons to get the radical feminist to push her project. As much I like the idea of her scamming non thinking femanazi drone bots its still wrong and should be called out. Let alone the way she is publicly shaming her children over a common children's fight, and for profit at that. This kick-starter is disgusting on so many levels it should make you wretch that this women thought to even try it.
    NO her original paln was to give hats and shirts and mouspads to people. The charity stuff only came when media started to ask questions. She never planned that, it was cause she was getting negative press all the sudden.
    The problem is everything with this project. From how she sold it, to even doing it, to using her children in a disgusting abominable way, without care for the fact she was making her boys out to be monsters with such a charged situation.
    That you cant see that these were wrong speaks volumes about you as a person.” – Brad Donald Lannon
  • “This family is a riot.
    Here's an indiegogo (another kickstarter-like organization) fundraiser from Susan's husband to get his kids off of video games:
    Isn't that precious? One fundraiser to get off games, one fundraiser to make them.
    The mother is successful (glorified debt collector) but exploits her children, throws her boys under the bus (PR stunt) under the guise of gender issues. Her daughter has a facebook (violates facebook terms for not being at least 13, but then again this family is no stranger to violating terms) and plays Mature rated games with strong violence sexual themes (great parenting!).
    This family scams. And this article doesn't even scratch the surface of how shady they are.” – Sof Akins
  • “Susan wins. Internet can't win this fight.
    This woman is not an amateur. She knew how to manipulate the system and get all the media attention she needs.
    This is not about the money, it never was. This is about a woman getting tons of media attention and creating a platform to market from in the future. Look at her stretch goal Keep It Up gear. She's playing this for the long haul.
    She's good at it too, she's smart. Who wants to argue against a 9 year old girl? Even KS doesn't want to touch that. Now she gets to look like a hero for women everywhere and a heroic mother.
    She won. I'm sorry internet, we lost this fight.” – frankderr
  • “Wait what? So because you don't know how to raise your children or even control them after you realize you fucked up bad during their adolescence you decide to do this? Judging by every word you have said about your sons it sounds like they should not live with you because you nor your daughter can live with them.” – prettycoolstory
  • “Sadly, if Kickstarter yanks the "project" now, every crazed feminist on the internet will be beating down Kickstarter's doors with torches and pitchforks.” – Ryanne Cross
  • “More to the point, the industry is not sexist, it never has been, the jobs are there for those who want them, men are just sometimes to willing to sacrifice damn everything to achieve it, hell the owner of Obsidian says his resume ratio is 10 men for every 1 women.
    Honestly this whole crap makes it sound like women are being held down in some insane way when women have never had more rights, more than that and like you said, some of the most important positions and jobs in the world are held by women. This whole women in games, women in tech shit is getting really out of hand, its just a tool now for websites desperate for page hits, ironic that much like feminism the message has become distorted as well.” – Kyousuke Nanbu
  • “It's not the point, but she is super duper ugly.” – Phil Hasenkamp, Iowa State U
  • “I wondered who the fark Susan Wilson is, so I clicked to CNN's profile. “Her 10-year-old company finds out where debtors bank, work and own property--and gets 20% of its targets to pay up.” A farking collection agent is one of the most powerful women entrepreneurs. I don't know whether to be afraid of comforted.” – BarkingUnicorn
  • “I'm going to do a kickstarter to fund a marketing campaign to ruin this woman's life. TV ads in her home down, internet ads, etc. At $500 you can help design ads with me.” – m00
  • “I can see her pimping our her daughter to the highest bidder, if the price was right.” – WhippingBoy
  • “saturn badger: And she is a coont.
    I just want to choke this biatch.....” – shortymac
  • “That whore should have never been allowed to squat to make millions.” – FeminismSucks
  • “We have Anita Sarkeesian to thank for these copycats.She demonstrated that there's money in crowdfunding misandry. Now every unemployed feminazi cunt is jumping on the bandwagon.” – stupefyingly
  • “This is sickening. I have never wanted to punch a woman in the face so badly. Not that I would, this lady is just delusional and sexist as hell” – Nimrod41544
  • “This is really an embarrassment to women.
    That gender is the reason why the request received such an enthusiastic response suggests that feminism has succeeded in convincing society that women and girls just don't have what it takes to overcome obstacles facing us on our own... and that a woman who had the mental resources to reach millionaire status felt entitled to use that system instead of funding her own effort to train her daughter in the area of project creation and presentation shows that even some highly successful women aren't completely divorced from the entitlement mentality that abuses the good will of others to fund their lives... taking it even when they don't need the money. How can we expect to be perceived as independent and self-sufficient when people can point to incidents like this?” – oneirosgrip

Like I said, this has been a really lonely feeling, because in order to try to properly understand what’s going on, I’ve had to wade through a whole lot of crap, and the sheer volume of it has left me doubting myself in a few places. I’m glad there are people like Angela who are fighting the good fight.

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