Thursday, October 04, 2007

Indymedia: for heterosexual men's gratification

I've never believed the hype about indymedia (for good reason). I think that if you take a space and make it equally open to all then you don't get utopia; you get a replication of all the existing power imbalances in society (although in this particular case there are more chickens).

But even with this analysis I was shocked to see this article on the newswire. Well not the article itself - that's a standard rant about how drug prohibition is bad, but the image that accompanied it was astonishingly awful. It was a stereotypically sexy white woman, wearing a bikini and the tagline was "Marijuana: No Hangover, No Violence, No Carbs" I'm not even going to comment on the image itself - I'm sure anyone who reads this blog can guess my reaction, what I want to talk about in this post is what happened next.

So this sexist, objectifying image is posted to the indymedia news wire, and a whole lot of women (and a man) speak up and say "please take this down it's sexist and objectifying". The indymedia collective responds:

the ed collective is discussing this. if you want to email the editorial collective: imc-aotearoa-ed(at)

Call me easily pissed off, but how can the editorial collective sign off 'solidarity' when they won't show any solidarity? Solidarity would mean taking that picture down, or taking it off the news-wire, or giving a fuck about the way women are treated as objects.

What is indymedia about, what is it trying to build, if an image whose only meaning is to make women feel shitty about themselves is acceptable? You can't change society for the better without women, but apparently Aotearoa indymedia has other priorities.


  1. What does an out-of-date promotional image from a Colorado election have to do with New Zealand laws anyway?

  2. Anonymous1:02 pm

    Indymedia policy is very clear about the use of sexist material, etc, and as such is not strictly an open space.

    Unfortunately, in this case, the removal of the image has been vetoed by an editor.

    Please don't generalise so grossly as to suggest this is the opinion of the collective as whole, as you know very well the kind of internal wranglings any collective always has.

  3. I can see that it would be unfair to generalise that this was the opinion of all the editorial collective members. I know for a fact that some members of the editorial collective would want that image gone. But the action of not removing that image is the action of the collective as a whole. The decision to allow one editor to block deleting an image he (to take one small step and there conclusions are) doesn't think is sexist, is an editorial collective decision.

    If indymedia wants to be part of building a better world, rather than just part of reproducing the problems of this one, then it can't just 'not be an open space'. It has to make an active effort not to reproduce oppression.

    I'm aware indymedia has some very useful stuff. I link to it and read it all the time. But that's not enough.

  4. Anonymous2:00 pm

    But the action of not removing that image is the action of the collective as a whole. The decision to allow one editor to block deleting an image he (to take one small step and there conclusions are) doesn't think is sexist, is an editorial collective decision.

    These are the processes of the group, previously agreed upon. We can't override them just like that! Moreover, a veto is quite clearly not a group decision, but instead a failure to make a decision at all - in which case, as policy stipulates, we can't hide it.

  5. For what its worth, the section of the Editorial Policy that those who want the image removed are using is:

    "Racist, sexist, homophobic and/or pornographic comments unrelated to or contributing no substantial value to the topic under discussion."

    The process is:

    1. An empowered editor (active member of the editorial collective) identifies a posting as a problem and immediately hides it, appending a comment to the posting explaining why it was hidden.

    2. The editor alerts the editorial collective, notifying it that the post was hidden.

    3. At least two additional editors must concur with the first editor's judgement, and none express disagreement, or, 24 hours must pass without any editor expressing disagreement, in order for the post to remain hidden. If consensus is not reached, the post is unhidden.

    The process and policy as a whole is written/updated/changed/ratified at Indymedia Convergences (once every year or two) by the wider Aotearoa Indymedia collective, and the Editorial Collective is mandated to enact it.

    Theoretically, I (or any other editor) could (ie - we have the required access on the admin system) remove the image. Given that, as anonymous said, one editor is currently blocking consensus, doing that would be pretty explicitly going against the policy that we, as editors, have been mandated to enact by the wider AIMC collective though.

    So, instead, the discussion continues on the AIMC Editorial list (20 emails so far...)

    One of the Aotearoa Indymedia Editorial Collective

  6. Anonymous5:30 pm

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but that post should be hidden and remain hidden until the discussion is completed. I don't agree that simply removing the newsfeed link to the post is "hiding", as the post is still easily visible and can be linked to by anyone so inclined. Not that they seem to have even got as far as hiding it, judging by the lack of a comment explaining that it's been hidden.

    So I'm with Maia - the Aotearoa IMC have decided to publish that image, and to keep it there despite it being in clear violation of the editorial policy. I would *love* to know the justification of the editors for breaching their own policy.

    Moz (for some reason I can't log in right now)

  7. Not quite Moz - the process goes that it should initially be hidden, and then if anyone disagrees it gets immediately unhidden (and can be rehidden if discussion changes their mind).

    Two editors had already emailed the editorial list saying that they didn't think it should be hidden (one of whom has since changed their mind) before any of the editors who think it should be hidden had seen it - therefore, step 1 was skipped because there was already an objection to hiding it before the discussion had started.

    If it does end up being hidden (as I hope it will), I would imagine the image will simply be removed from the post, as there is nothing wrong with the rest of the post in and of itself.

    One of the Aotearoa Indymedia Editorial Collective

  8. Just removed the image and posted the following on Indy:

    Hi all,

    I have now removed an image from this post because it broke the editorial policy.

    "Racist, sexist, homophobic and/or pornographic comments unrelated to or contributing no substantial value to the topic under discussion."

    Under the policy, in order for it to be hidden, we needed to have consensus amongst the Aotearoa Indymedia Editorial Collective. We did not have this (and still do not).

    However, thanks to one person on the Editorial List who trawled through minutes from prior Aotearoa Indymedia convergences, the following steps were found from the 2003 convergence that can be taken where consensus cannot be reached:

    "Step One: Actively try and resolve it. Methods may include:
    Calling for input from those not involved in the conflict"

    I think we in the editorial collective have actively tried to resolve the disagreement, and have thus far been unable to. There has been a considerable amount of input from people outside of the editorial collective ("those involved in the conflict"), on the editorial collective email list, on this thread on AIMC and on the Capitalism Bad; Tree Pretty blog.

    Therefore I think that moving to Step Two is justified.

    "Step Two: As a last resort, use “consensus minus one.” This means that
    when only one party objects to a decision and the procedures under Step One
    have not resolved the conflict; the decision will be carried out anyway."

    Therefore, I have now hidden the image, and appending a comment to the thread detailing why.

    Thanks to all who have expressed their feelings on this issue, and sorry it took us so long to reach a conclusion.

    One of the Aotearoa Indymedia Editorial Collective (writing for myself, not the whole collective)

  9. Thanks Asher.

    To the anonymous who defended the indymedia collective members. I understand that collective members' have to follow the policy. I'm not making a comment on any of the individual collective members (some are my friends). What I'm talking about is indymedia is an entity - not about the actions of individuals. From the perspective of a woman viewing that image the 'no girls allowed' signal is as strong whatever the process by which it is kept there.

    The fact that since then this has been posted (and not hidden): "And the Andrea Dwodkin types invade.

    Go away fat zionist assholes. Your corpulence is the essense of capitalism."

    Really emphasises my point about indymedia replicating existing oppression.

  10. Thanks Asher, good to see that one worked through.

    (The problem yesterday was google saying "invalid password" but meaning "cookie blocked").