A self-described "master pickup artist" used Kickstarter to raise 800% of his target goal to publish a book that encourages men to aggressively dominate women — specifically without asking for permission — if they want to get laid. After widespread protest, Kickstarter called the project "abhorrent and inconsistent with our values as people and as an organization," but allowed the project to be funded, taking their 5% cut of the earnings. Here's the company's explanation.
The project gained attention after comedian Casey Malone blogged about it less then 12 hours before it was successfully funded at noon on Wednesday. He highlighted some of the most egregious quotes, including "To quote Rob Judge, “Personal space is for pussies.” I already told you that the most successful seducers are those who can’t keep their hands off of women"; "Physically pick her up and sit her on your lap. Don’t ask for permission. Be dominant. Force her to rebuff your advances"; and " 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.”
Some people — including "master pickup artist' Ken Hoinsky himself, who released a pathetic statement today — say the quotes were taken out of context; a dude should only "GRAB HER HAND" et al if he's gotten a woman to trust him (using game rulez) first. Sorry, that's bullshit. Pick-up artistry isn't about fostering consent. It's about entitled dudes getting their way. Hoinsky also argues that his book includes additional notes on "resistance," like "If at any point a girl wants you to stop, she will let you know" — uh, that might be hard if she's being physically pressured — and saying "No problem. I don't want you to do anything you aren't comfortable with," if she seems uncomfortable, although that's followed with "take a break and try again later." How considerate.
Malone's post got tons of feedback — including a message from Kickstarter. He posted part of the company's response:
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.
I can understand where Kickstarter is coming from. Malone found those quotes on Reddit, not on Hoinsky's Kickstarter; should we really expect the company to apply its guidelines to content on users' various social media accounts? But I think Kickstarter would've acted differently if we were talking about racism or homophobia instead of sexism. Misogyny is so normalized that it seems "iffy" but fair to some people at Kickstarter that a dude would want to tell other dudes that consent is for pussies and real men take what they want from women, even if they have to use force. (But, like, not REAL force, according to Hoinsky. Sexxxy force!)
In the meantime, social change non-profit Do Something delivered the 47,000+ signatures received on a "CEO of Kickstarter: Refuse to Fund How-To Guide on Sexual Assault" petition in less than 24 hours to Kickstarter's office today. (See the above photos.) "We love Kickstarter," Naomi Hirabayashi, Chief Marketing Officer at DoSomething.org, wrote to Jezebel in an email. "We love their platform. We just want to ensure the platform is utilized in accordance with Kickstarter's own terms of service."