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Feminist Hactivism (TW: date rape)

October 21, 2015

“So, I have a really hot friend that I been wanting to fuck for a long time now. but since she has a boyfriend it seems far fetched. I was thinking of a drug that I could put on her Starbucks or something that would knock her out for a couple of hours. If you have a link where I could buy said drug it would be very much appreciated.”

 

The above is the opening message of a thread taken from one of the biggest forums on the Deep Web. You’ll have to take my word for it that the guy got the answers he was looking for, and is now probably on a journey that ends with attempted date rape. (Though from the drugs prescribed by other anonymous online users, manslaughter might be a more likely result.)

 

This isn’t an unusual request for the Deep Web, give me five minutes and I’ll come back to you with hundreds of messages from those calling upon the “Personal Army” of anonymous users to harass, intimidate and harm women from all over the world. Unsurprisingly, it is predominantly women who are the victims of such calls to action, and “feminazi” is the only justification needed to release their personal information to thousands of people.

 

These forums, however, are the gateway to the underground hacktivist network: millions of people working together with different levels of technological skill to bring down everything from personal email accounts to the websites of listed global enterprises. No-one’s in charge of it, it’s not affiliated with any official group, and everyone’s anonymous – which makes taking it down impossible.

 

It would seem that online security leaks are the last bastion of activism that the men in control are truly afraid of. It’s the power of people organising away from their spies, with technology that they’re not in control of. But as is so often the case with the anonymity of web – even the surface web – it is rage against women that greets new users.

 

Whilst I’m all for calling for sexist, misogynistic websites on the surface web (namely, subreddits) to be taken down by the authorities, I wouldn’t call for the Deep Web to receive the same treatment. As our privacy and free speech (a la #killallwhitemen) is compromised by government, I think the Deep Web is an important battleground for democracy and political organising – and it’s growing.

 

We all know it’s women who are being hit hardest by every single move the government makes towards the right; with cuts and threats to public services, increased militarisation and reduced freedom. So rather than screaming to have it taken down, I’m asking you to do as I do – join the Deep Web, make our needs heard, and fight misogyny where it’s happening.

 

Anonymity on the web is the great equaliser. Men are the majority on these sites, and women stay silent and invisible. With an influx of openly female commenters and hackers on these sites, we can begin to fight for our own causes, and perhaps help out a few women on the way.

 

Personally, I try to combat every post with a woman’s details by contacting the woman as early as possible (using the leaked information), to warn her of what is happening – hopefully before she receives the brunt of it. For those looking to commit sex crimes against women, you can reply and ask for a location under the guise of helping and then alert the authorities in the area.

 

I daresay men themselves would begin to behave more like acceptable human beings upon noticing the increase of women in their “safe” domain. Perhaps that guy posting revenge porn will think twice if he knows there are just as many women out there who will fight to expose him as men who will congratulate them.

 

Feminist organising and activism has much more potential if planned in the safety of the Deep Web – at least for those of us who like to toe that line between peaceful protest and full-on Guy Fawkes plotting. Flash mobs without warning are scarier to the government than a planned A to B protest with police cooperation.

 

The Deep Web is for all kinds of feminists. A sex-worker can share the details of dangerous clients with others in her field, a cam-girl can solicit clients directly, and they in turn can pay her anonymously in BitCoin. Victims of domestic violence can find women to help support her and provide a network of disguised safe houses. Women in need of abortion can travel, aided by women thousands of miles away, to countries where they can access safe medical care. Medical care can even be sought on the Deep Web to procure a miscarriage safely, at home.

 

Organising and communicating together is probably the strongest weapon women have in their arsenal. So women, download the Tor browser, combat the dickheads, find like-minded women, and buy a kilogram of uncut cocaine at the same time if you’re so inclined.

 

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