This came out today (ha! see what I did there?): A Gay Girl in Damascus, a popular blog supposedly written by an out lesbian living in the Middle East, turned out to be a fraud. The author writes:
Apology to readers
I never expected this level of attention. While the narrative voıce may have been fictional, the facts on thıs blog are true and not mısleading as to the situation on the ground. I do not believe that I have harmed anyone — I feel that I have created an important voice for issues that I feel strongly about.
I only hope that people pay as much attention to the people of the Middle East and their struggles in thıs year of revolutions. The events there are beıng shaped by the people living them on a daily basis. I have only tried to illuminate them for a western audience.
This experience has sadly only confirmed my feelings regarding the often superficial coverage of the Middle East and the pervasiveness of new forms of liberal Orientalism.
However, I have been deeply touched by the reactions of readers.
July 12, 2011
The sole author of all posts on this blog.
Well, Tom, let me tell you who you have harmed:
Women living in oppression who are trying to be heard.
You co-opted their voices for your goals and, even worse, you got caught. Now people who hear about a blog (or Twitter account or whatever) where a woman is attempting to cry foul can easily dismiss it, saying “Ah, just another hoax, like that douche, Tom MacMaster.”
People living in oppression who are trying to be heard.
You co-opted the voices of oppressed people all over the world for your own goals. Again, when people hear an atrocity being reported first-hand via a blog or social media, they are more likely to say “Ah, just another hoax, like that douche, Tom MacMaster.”
Bloggers who are actually attempting to have integrity as they take their place in new media as journalists.
Everything online works on trust. Pagerank is about trust…how trusted a site is. People are already skeptical of new media, often for unnecessary and selfish reasons (college professors hate Wikipedia because it democratizes knowledge, knowledge it has always been their job to define, distribute, and curate; like everyone else with vested privileges, they don’t want them challenged). And you have just added to it. The next time any news pops online and isn’t coming through a mainstream media source, the person seeing it is now just a little more justified in saying, “Ah, just another hoax, like that douche, Tom MacMaster.”
That douche, Tom MacMaster, a white, American male, co-opted the voice of a Syrian female, an “out” lesbian, and claimed to be a victim of oppression. When found out, as is typical of his ilk, he says that not only did he not do anything wrong by committing a vast deception, he actually was doing the real victims a favor! He feels he’s “created an important voice for issues that I feel strongly about”. Notice the “I feel strongly about”…again, typical of this sort of misappropriation of minority voices. Hey, that douche, Tom MacMaster…if you really want to create an important voice, why not use your own? If you care about these women who are being oppressed, why not report on what they have to say? Why do you believe you have the right to speak for them? And what does all of this come down to?
That, douche Tom MacMaster is one of those guys who pretends to be girls on the internet to get attention. He is no different than all the “girls” in WoW who ask for gold…he’s a guy pretending to be a girl on the internet to get attention.
Alright, rant over. As you were.