Monday, July 14, 2014

Sexy women scorned: a review

Tech-media-tainment has long covered how government and societal leaders seek to punish women for celebrating their sexuality.
What follows is a list of articles on sexy women scorned.
While most of my coverage centers on the United States, similar attitudes exist in Europe.
In April, model Georgia Eden was kicked out of a Miss England competition because she posted a topless picture of herself online to promote a breast cancer campaign. She covered her nipples with a hand and an arm.
Eden was told the selfie photo violated the rules of the competition because it brought the event into disrepute, the Daily Mail reported. The 22-year-old model was participating in the Miss Oxfordshire heat of the competition.

Conservatives want young women to cover up more (July 13, 2014)

America hues to its puritanical roots when it comes to nudity (July 12, 2014)

Society needs to stop ‘slut shaming’ (July 11, 2014)

Duke student/porn star Belle Knox turning lemons into lemonade (April 5, 2014)

Porn stars invited to high school proms. What’s the harm? (March 28, 2014)

In defense of streaking (Oct. 13, 2013)

America continues to punish sexy women (June 5, 2013)

Prostitution cases frequently a waste of law enforcement resources (June 4, 2013)

Absurd morality against sexy women who model extends to Europe (Jan. 18, 2013)

Public treats porn performers, nude models like criminals (Jan. 17, 2013)

Being a porn actress isn’t a crime, so women shouldn’t be harassed because of it (April 3, 2011)

Photo: English model Georgia Eden takes a controversial selfie to promote breast cancer awareness.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Conservatives want young women to cover up more

Some conservatives won’t be satisfied with how young women dress in the U.S. until they’re covered head to toe in burkas.
They find a bare shoulder or too much leg offensive.
What follows are some recent examples of what I’m talking about.
In May, a 17-year-old Virginia girl was kicked out of the Richmond Homeschool Prom because several fathers complained that her dress triggered “impure thoughts.” The student, Clare Ettinger, said the dress met the prom’s “fingertip length” dress code.
Two women acting as chaperones confronted Ettinger and told her that her dress combined with her dancing made several fathers supervising the dance uncomfortable.
“I’m not responsible for some perverted 45-year-old dad lusting after me because I have a sparkly dress on and a big ass for a teenager. And if you think I am, then maybe you’re part of the problem,” Ettinger wrote in a guest post on her sister’s blog.
Media coverage of the incident included reports by NBC News, the New York Post, WWBT and Gawker.
Another incident that made headlines this spring was the Utah high school that Photoshopped yearbook photos to add more clothing to girls. The editors digitally covered bare shoulders and cleavage and, in at least one case, removed a tattoo. (See examples at Uproxx and Cosmopolitan.)
In a sexist double-standard, last year’s Wasatch High School yearbook included a page called “Wasatch Stud Life,” which featured photos of male students pulling up their shirts and showing their underwear. (See articles by Jezebel and Cosmopolitan.)
Adults in Utah must be especially conservative about young women’s clothing.
In June, a female reporter with the Ogden, Utah, Standard-Examiner was barred from the courtroom for wearing a sleeveless blouse. She put on a colleague’s winter coat and returned to the hearing she was covering.
(See the article that started the fuss in the Standard-Examiner. Jim Romenesko was among the media who followed up on the story.)

Photos: Claire Ettinger prom photos (top), edited and unedited Wasatch High School yearbook photos.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

America hues to its puritanical roots when it comes to nudity

In December, a 19-year-old aspiring porn star was sentenced to 45 days in jail for taking naked photos late at night outside her old high school in Lincoln, Nebraska.
No one was harmed by her actions and the public wasn’t exposed to her rebellious act. But Lancaster County Judge Thomas Fox said the fact that the photo shoot occurred on school property was shocking, according to the Journal Star. So he threw the book at Valerie Dodds, who performs under the name Val Midwest.
It’s another example of America sticking to its puritanical roots and believing that nudity and overt sexuality are evil.
At a bench trial in November, Judge Fox found Dodds guilty of trespassing and public nudity for the May 13 late-night photo shoot. A month later, at her sentencing, Fox had deputies take her away in handcuffs.
Was Dodds a threat to the public? Of course not. She wasn’t some violent criminal, thief or con artist. She was a silly prankster who should have gotten a fine and a warning, not jail time.
Dodds was photographed posing with her breasts exposed outside the school football field, lying nude on the turf and sitting naked on a concrete bench. She posted the photos on the Internet and said on her website it was revenge for students, alumni and teachers of the school who criticized her when she announced her porn career, the Journal Star said.
In March, she decided to drop her appeal in the case, so she could move on with her life, the newspaper reported.
Like Duke University student and porn star Belle Knox, Dodds decided to turn the publicity about the case in her favor on her website. She even scored a cover on Hustler magazine.

Hustler likes to profile sexy women who have been scorned by society.
In March, the cover girl was Olivia Sprauer, who also goes by the name Victoria James. She was forced to resign from her job as a high school English teacher in Florida after the school found out she was a bikini model on the side, the Daily Mail reported.
Then there’s the case of an unnamed teacher at a Christian school in Cincinnati who resigned from her job in December after it was discovered that topless photos of the woman had been put on a “revenge porn” site without her knowledge. The woman, who is married, reported that her iPhone had been stolen. But despite being the victimized party, the school and parents were glad to be rid of her, AVN reported.
How Christian of them.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Society needs to stop ‘slut shaming’

It’s an old story: men who sleep around are called “players,” while women who do the same are sluts. Men who bed lots of women are admired for their sexual prowess. Women who sleep around are branded as whores.
Men get to “play the field” and “sow their wild oats,” but women are expected to stay virgins until they get married or they reap society’s scorn.
In the U.S., sexually active single women face criticism. In some Muslim countries, they face death.
In May, a pregnant Pakistani woman was beaten to death by her family because she married the man she loved instead of her cousin.
“The 25-year-old woman’s father, brother and spurned fiance were among about a dozen male relatives who used bricks and clubs in the so-called honor killing of Farzana Parveen for disobeying her family's wishes,” USA Today wrote. “She suffered massive head injuries and was pronounced dead at a hospital.”
Around 1,000 Pakistani women are killed every year by their families in honor killings, according to Pakistani rights group the Aurat Foundation, Reuters reported. But the actual figure might be much higher, the group says.
The U.S. isn’t as savage in its treatment of women as the Muslim world. But much of the country looks down on women who flaunt their sexuality.

Consider the case of Alyssa Funk. The 19-year-old college student committed suicide in April after being harassed online for her appearance in a porn video. (See articles by the Huffington Post, Radar Online, KMSP Fox 9, the Daily Mail and the Daily Dot.)
“Alyssa Funke did not have to take her own life. That was her choice,” writer Jacky St. James said on her blog. “However, I completely agree that bullying and harassment absolutely contributed to her choice. I don’t think people realize just how impactful their words are (whether it be online or in person).”
Funke likely was suffering from depression before the bullying, blogger Bree at Planet Bree wrote. A lot of girls in porn are struggling with depression, anxiety and other mental illnesses, but don’t seek treatment because of the perceived stigma of having a chemical in-balance in the brain, she said. They should be encouraged to do so by people who care about them.
The media drew parallels with Duke University student Miriam Weeks, 18, who was outed as porn star Belle Knox by a male student earlier this year. Weeks was harassed about her porn performances as well, but chose to fight back. She noted that some of her harshest critics were men who watch porn. She said consumers of pornography are in no position to judge the people who perform in it. The Belle Knox case also lifted the curtain on how porn fans often try to invade the personal lives of adult actresses, the Huffington Post reported.
Porn actresses are entertainers, just of a different stripe. They’re also sex workers, along with nude models, strippers and prostitutes. They deserve to be treated with basic human dignity.
Some are able to break free of stereotypes on their own. For example, recently deceased poet and author Maya Angelou had stints as a prostitute and madam, AVN reported.

Photos of Alyssa Funke.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Online information vanishing for variety of reasons

I recently wrote about how online information can disappear without warning. This happens for a number of reasons.
In a dangerous precedent, the European Court of Justice in May ordered Google to remove from its search index articles and other posts that might embarrass people. It soon was inundated with “right to be forgotten” requests, including some from the subjects of newsworthy stories.
Google pushed back and alerted news organizations about individual stories set for deletion from the index earlier this month. Thankfully common sense prevailed in some cases and links were restored, Reuters and Techdirt reported. However, the censorship persists in many other cases.
But Google is a willing participant in other censorship. It has let stars like Paul McCartney and Jimmy Page blur out their U.K. houses on Street View, the Independent reported.
And Google is letting anyone request that their home, car or other images be deleted from Street View, the Huffington Post reported.
Sometimes social media sites take down images they find offensive. Facebook has been particularly aggressive here.
For instance, it has scrubbed Instagram of bare breasts like they are something shameful. Pop star Rihanna was forced to cancel her Instagram account because she likes to go au naturel.
Last week, Facebook deleted photos taken by a Texas Tech cheerleader on her African big-game hunting trip.
While the hunts were legal, Facebook said it removes it removes “reported content that promotes poaching of endangered species, the sale of animals for organized fight or content that includes extreme acts of animal abuse,” according to the Huffington Post.
Last year, Tumblr deleted three of my blogs and hundreds of curated images because of a complaint from one prickly photographer pushing a copyright claim on a couple of photos. Tumblr refused to hear my “fair use” appeal. In fact, the Yahoo-owned blogging site never responded to my numerous emails about the takedown.

Photo: Homes in Wilmette, Ill., on Google Street View.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

The Failed Promise of Digital Content: a recap, part 2

The public Internet arrived on the scene in the early 1990s with a lot of promise. Since then, it has revolutionized commerce, communications and entertainment.
But there have been bumps on the path to the libraries of content available anywhere and anytime that people were promised.
Over the last five years, I have written about the shortcomings of the Internet and digital media when it comes to content – music, video, documents, etc. I published a recap of the first 20 parts of the series on Nov. 3, 2010.
Here is an index of parts 21 to 40 of the series “The Failed Promise of Digital Content.”

Part 21: Copyright cops overreach again
Part 22: Netflix, Yahoo and EW think I’m gay
Part 23: Is SEO the future of news?
Part 24: Zero tolerance for offensive comments online
Part 25: The scourge of online incivility
Part 26: Warner Bros. finally releases ‘Harry O’ TV pilot from its vaults
Part 27: Online news creating a generation of headline skimmers
Part 28: The slow death of once popular websites
Part 29: Ripping off content is commonplace online
Part 30: Lack of attribution online is a problem
Part 31: Yahoo may not have been built to last
Part 32: Facebook needs a new search function pronto
Part 33: Efforts to preserve our digital heritage
Part 34: Phone books deserve to die
Part 35: Society loses part of its history and culture when websites go off line
Part 36: Cancun chimp photo: A picture is worth a thousand questions
Part 37: The scourge of link rot
Part 38: Online information disappearing with involuntary assist from Google
Part 39: Preserving online information for posterity
Part 40: Famous minds donating their papers could become a thing of the past

Famous minds donating their papers could become a thing of the past

As writing and editing have shifted to personal computers, a lot of documents that used to be put on paper have become electronic.
Authors, academics, scientists and others no longer need to have reams of paper notes and drafts of their works.
Researchers historically have been interested in early drafts and notes for key documents from famous people to divine their thought processes. It is common for great minds to donate their papers to universities, libraries or museums.
But the age of paper appears to be coming to an end, including all those works in progress. With PCs, many writers edit as they go and delete early drafts and notes as unnecessary clutter.
You still read about famous people donating their papers, but they’re mostly old timers.
For instance, on June 19, retiring University of Winnipeg president Lloyd Axworthy, a long-time fixture of Canadian politics, donated his personal papers to the university, the Winnipeg Free Press reported. Axworthy is 74.
In October 2010, poet and author Maya Angelou donated about 340 boxes full of her personal papers to the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem. Angelou died May 28 at age 86.
Author Gore Vidal donated his papers to the Harvard College Library in February 2002. Vidal died in July 2012 at the age of 86.
Pioneering figures in the video game industry lately have been donating their personal papers to the Strong National Museum of Play. They include Don Daglow, creator of the influential games “Utopia” (1981) and “Neverwinter Nights” (1991); Dan Bunten, creator of the landmark multiplayer online game “M.U.L.E.” (1983); and Will Wright, creator of the SimCity, Sims and Spore family of “god games.”
Will future creatives and intellectuals have the same amount of paper documents? If not, will there be better archiving of electronic correspondence and documents in the years ahead? One would hope.

Photo: Picture of Will Wright’s notebooks.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Preserving online information for posterity

I’ve written a lot about the fleeting nature of online content, including newspaper articles, YouTube videos and other media. But some organizations are trying to preserve online information.
First and foremost, there is the Internet Archive, a not-for-profit digital library dedicated to preserving the Internet’s past for the use of future historians. It runs the popular Wayback Machine for seeing what websites used to look like. (Tech-media-tainment has been saved twice in its history, once in June 2011 and again in May 2014.)
Personally I wish I had been more diligent about saving email from old accounts from the early days of the commercial Internet. All that digital correspondence with friends from the 1990s is gone forever.
The Internet Archive is one of just a handful of institutions, including parts of the British Library and the Library of Congress, trying to ensure that what is online now is saved for the future, the Financial Times wrote. (See “How to preserve the web’s past for the future,” Financial Times; April 11, 2014.)
In May, the Internet Archive announced that its Wayback Machine had archived 400 billion indexed webpages, from late 1996 to the present, The Next Web reported.
The Internet Archive has collected about 15 petabytes of information to date, Mother Jones reported. (A petabyte is about 1 million gigabytes of data.)
Wikipedia also is becoming a resource to preserve Internet history.
The National Archives and Records Administration is uploading its digital holdings to the Wikipedia Commons to gain a wider reach for the documents, TechCrunch reported.
In April, the Digital Public Library of America celebrated its one-year anniversary. The DPLA is a platform that connects the online archives of many libraries around the nation into a single network. All the archives are searchable through the digital library’s website, Ars Technica reported.

Photo: Internet Archive servers in August 2011. (Pernilla Rydmark on Flicker)

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Online information disappearing with involuntary assist from Google

Information posted online can disappear for a host of reasons. News organizations often move or delete articles, creating dead links. Other times the business or organization doing the posting closes and their websites go away.
In Europe, a recent high court ruling is forcing Google to remove search results for people who are embarrassed by them. The decision created a legal precedent for the “right to be forgotten.”
While the intent of the ruling seems noble, it created a mess of problems.
For starters, the definition of what can be ordered taken down is broad. The information only need embarrass a person, even if it’s factually correct.
Also, news organizations have no official recourse to appeal take-down notices on Google.
Plus, only the search results are scrubbed, not the actual stories. So, web surfers in countries outside of Europe (such as the U.S.) can find the articles in question using their country’s version of Google.
The whole exercise seems idiotic. Let’s hope this concept doesn’t spread to the U.S.
The Guardian predicts the rise of “reputation management” firms who will clean search results for their clients.
Media organizations are calling the actions a form of censorship.

Related articles: 

Google reverses decision to delete British newspaper links (Reuters; July 3, 2014)

The EU’s “right to be forgotten” is a bad idea, and Google is handling it exactly the right way (GigaOm; July 3, 2014)

As Commanded by EU, News Stories Start Disappearing from Google Searches (Reason; July 3, 2014)

EU’s right to be forgotten: Guardian articles have been hidden by Google (The Guardian; July 2, 2014)

Google deletes search results about millionaire banker blamed for causing financial crisis and referee who lied as ‘right to be forgotten’ kicks in on European searches (The Daily Mail; July 2, 2014)

Thanks To “Right To Be Forgotten,” Google Now Censors The Press In The EU (Marketing Land; July 2, 2014)

Why Google Is Yanking Negative Coverage Of Powerful People From Its Search Results (The Huffington Post; July 2, 2014)

Google Alerts Press About Right To Be Forgotten Removals, Putting Those Stories Back In The News (Techdirt; July 2, 2014)

Photo: Google logo in Building 43 by Robert Scoble