@ anomalousdata who said she doesn’t believe Shakesville is a cult. Well forbidding people from pointing out mistakes to you or implying you can never be wrong IS what cults do. Still don’t think it’s a cult? read this garbage that has emanated from the fermented minds of…
Oh, I don’t disagree that there’s absolutely a cult of personality around Melissa on Shakesville, one that pretty clearly stifles opinion and discussion. Cults are more than just stifling dissent, though. There’s usually a threat that keeps people from leaving cults; “you’ll go to Hell,” “we have control of all your money,” “people will die,” that kind of thing. Anyone is free to come and go from Shakesville without much consequence, as a lot of the people who’ve commented on STFUShakesville will attest.
Again, not saying there isn’t a lot of emotional bullying that goes on there, and people might feel that they’re losing their safe space or ‘disappointing Liss’ or something else when they finally leave the site. Just saying it’s not Jonestown.
It’s not Jonestown and nobody is going to die, sure, but there is one form of threat: “we are the only safe space on the Internet, we built this community for survivors, and once we kick you out, there’s nothing”.
I got wrapped up with them after I left my abusive mother, was trying to piece together my sexual assault, and was trying to rediscover/relearn feminism. They presented themselves as a safe space—it was the first time I heard about that—particularly for survivors because McEwan was one herself. The evening and weekend open threads were supposed to be welcoming: I tried to make friends, to understand things, to find support. See the Tray of Comforting Things or whatever.
Basically they present themselves as a welcoming, safe place for survivors of abuse to discuss feminism and other issues.
And that’s where the whole problem is: McEwan and the mods are controlling, abusive assholes. We come to think they care—but they fucking don’t. You walk on eggshells. It was the same than what I was already conditioned to—and what many people who comment there are as well.
So the threat “we kick you out, you lose this community”—well it can mean something for lonely, isolated survivors who are just starting to navigate the feminist Internet. It’s not “you’ll go to hell”, but it’s “you’re a bad feminist” or “you’re dangerous to survivors” (even if the person being told that is a survivor). Shit, I got called homophobic when I was banned—I’m fucking queer?? (And I’m pretty sure the mod who kicked me out is fucking straight.) Sure, it’s not that terrible, but it’s upsetting, especially when your identity and selfhood is fragile. They made me rage, they made me cry—and they made other people cry when they got banned. And that’s just not fucking normal. Many people really underestimate just how serious the Internet can become for isolated, ill, disabled, abused, etc., people.
“Cult” might be exaggerated, but they’re still fucking messed up and “All In” creepy.
(Anyway, I’m rambling a lot.)
I’m so sorry you went through that. That’s exactly why I am so angry at Melissa and the other mods at Shakesville. They deliberately attract people who are vulnerable to their kind of manipulations and bullying, and then they treat them this way. It’s absolutely disgusting.