Kickstarter publishes apology for offensive ‘seduction guide’

By David Ferguson
Friday, June 21, 2013 15:03 EDT
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Woman with apology sign via Shutterstock
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Administrators for the online fundraising site Kickstarter issued an apology on Friday for hosting a fund drive for a “Pick Up Artist”-style prospective book called “Above the Game,” which urged men to physically force themselves on women who seem unreceptive to their sexual advances. In a statement on the Kickstarter blog, the site issued an apology to the public and a promise to more carefully screen the type of projects it supports.

“On Wednesday morning Kickstarter was sent a blog post quoting disturbing material found on Reddit,” said the post. “The offensive material was part of a draft for a ‘seduction guide’ that someone was using Kickstarter to publish. The posts offended a lot of people — us included — and many asked us to cancel the creator’s project. We didn’t. We were wrong.”

The publishers said that two main reasons played into their decision not to pull the plug on the “Above the Game” fundraiser:

-The decision had to be made immediately. We had only two hours from when we found out about the material to when the project was ending. We’ve never acted to remove a project that quickly.

-Our processes, and everyday thinking, bias heavily toward creators. This is deeply ingrained. We feel a duty to our community — and our creators especially — to approach these investigations methodically as there is no margin for error in canceling a project. This thinking made us miss the forest for the trees.

However, they said, “These factors don’t excuse our decision but we hope they add clarity to how we arrived at it.”

“Let us be 100 percent clear,” they continued. “Content promoting or glorifying violence against women or anyone else has always been prohibited from Kickstarter. If a project page contains hateful or abusive material we don’t approve it in the first place. If we had seen this material when the project was submitted to Kickstarter (we didn’t), it never would have been approved. Kickstarter is committed to a culture of respect.”

“Above the Game” preaches a doctrine of “physical escalation” to would-be seducers of women, urging them to become more sexually aggressive with women who seem cold or stand-offish. One such piece of advice, according to the book’s Kickstarter pitch, was to “(d)ecide 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.”

“Above the Game” writer Ken Hoinsky continued, “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.”

Writers at Feministing and blogger Casey Malone led the charge against the offensive campaign, which was slated to earn $2,000, but instead raked in $16,000 by Wednesday afternoon.

The Kickstarter team announced that it has canceled the “Above the Game” account, but kept a cached version of the page for transparency’s sake. The company announced that it will no longer be helping “seduction guides” or similar materials source funding through their site.

Finally, the company announced at $25,000 donation to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN), a nonprofit dedicated to supporting the survivors of sexual abuse and violence.

“We take our role as Kickstarter’s stewards very seriously,” said Friday’s apology. “Kickstarter is one of the friendliest, most supportive places on the web and we’re committed to keeping it that way. We’re sorry for getting this so wrong.”

[image of woman holding apology sign via Shutterstock.com]

David Ferguson
David Ferguson
David Ferguson is an editor at Raw Story. He was previously writer and radio producer in Athens, Georgia, hosting two shows for Georgia Public Broadcasting and blogging at Firedoglake.com and elsewhere. He is currently working on a book.
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