Meet the volunteers fighting the vilest misogyny on Reddit

Almost five years ago, when the #metoo movement first exploded into public consciousness, Ian knew he had to stand up against misogyny.

It wasn’t something he had really considered before, but as the subject of abuse and harassment of women became more widely discussed, he began to think more about the matter. At the time, he was 20 and just beginning to have more adult relationships with women, as friends and girlfriends. Many of them had told them about abuse they had experienced themselves. He was shocked at how uneven everything was.

[Content warning: glorification of sexual violence, consent violations, sexualization of minors, child pornography]

As a result of all of this, Ian started hanging out on more feminist subreddits, absorbing and learning what he could. Then, last year, he discovered the r/BanFemaleHateSubs community, a group of nearly 12,000 members dedicated to policing the misogynistic underbelly of Reddit.

Comprised of a predominantly female group of volunteers, it works to bring down communities it views as abusive or dangerous to women. The subreddit originated – or at least contributed to – the banning of hate communities such as r/abusedsluts, r/rapingwomen, r/againstwomensrights and r/deadlyerotica.

“His scary how easy these communities are to to find.”

Exploring r/BanFemaleHateSubs inspired Ian, now a 26-year-old hospitality industry worker on the East Coast, to take action. (Ian, like everyone interviewed in this article, asked to use a pseudonym for privacy reasons.) “When I joined this group, I realized I could do something that would help,” says- he. Ian contributed to r/BanFemaleHateSubs for about a year, including two months moderating the community, in March and April 2022. “It wasn’t the biggest help in the world, but it was something.”

He was unprepared for how shocking the material he would be exposed to was. One subreddit that stuck with him was called Tributes Delivered. On it, the men posted screenshots of their conversations with women and underage girls they had DMed on Instagram.

“They were like ‘Hey, I did a painting of you, do you want to see it?’ And then they would send her the “tribute,” Ian says. (A tribute photo is a printed image that someone has masturbated and ejaculated on.) “Of course women would feel horrible – but that’s what these guys did.

“They had even sent some of the photos to the mothers of the women,” he adds. A similar subreddit, r/NSFW_Tributes, where men post videos of themselves cumming on photos of celebrities or even acquaintances – some of whom appear to be underage – is still active and has over 200,000 members. .

Unfortunately, r/BanFemaleHateSubs members are all too familiar with this kind of content, and they want to get rid of it forever. They are fed up with Reddit, which they say fails to take action against many communities engaging in vulgar or illegal behavior. They urge Reddit to listen to their complaints and do much more to combat misogyny on the platform.

According to Nadia, a 19-year-old Israeli who recently joined r/BanFemaleHateSubs, members of the group work both independently and together to suppress problematic Reddit communities. “I’m still looking for ways to help. Most of the time, I search for groups and start posting about them, either as a group or as a single, as well as reporting it,” she says.

Unfortunately, that means scrolling through endless streams of horrifying content. “Some [subreddits] are very explicit and violent, and there have been instances where they have published information about minors. There were even real rape videos and stuff like that,” says Alex, a 20-year-old student from Nepal and host of r/BanFemaleHateSubs.

“I have learned see all kinds of [terms]. Sometimes I have to Check because I’m dealing with Language I didn’t know it existed yesterday.

Alex, who is a gay man, is regularly mistaken for a woman online (a problem he attributes to politeness and consideration) and as such has been the target of insults and abuse from the part of men who think he is a woman. This is what prompted him to join the battle. “In a way, I experience firsthand the kind of treatment women receive online, so fighting against that is a common interest,” he says. “It’s scary how easy these communities are to find.”

Members of r/BanFemaleHateSubs trained each other to understand the coded language and behaviors of the platform’s misogynistic community. “I learned to see all kinds of words. At first it doesn’t seem bad – like a NOT And one Lbut that means “no limits,” says Nadia.

“No limits”, she says To input, is slang designed to show that someone has “no limit” on the age of minors featured in their sexual content. She also discovered that the words “young” and “adolescent” often mean that minors are involved, and the term “mega trades” often refers to huge nude records that are traded online.

“Before I did that, those words meant nothing to me. It’s not always easy,” says Nadia. “Sometimes I have to check because I’m dealing with a language I didn’t know existed yesterday.”

Emotional balance sheet

Although these volunteers take pride in what they do, it has taken a toll on their own well-being.

“It gets a little difficult to understand emotionally, when you watch these things and bring them back every day, how bad it all is,” says Ian, who in May took a temporary hiatus from r/BanFemaleHateSubs due its impact on his mental health. “I became desensitized to all that, heavy stuff. I realized how fucked up it really was.

Nadia also felt weighed down by the content she is now regularly exposed to online, even after volunteering for less than two months. “Sometimes it’s hard to do it and I have to take breaks. Sometimes I have to let go and take a step back when it gets too much. But most of all I think about the mental health of the people in these videos seeing their trauma exploited,” she said.

“This seems as Reddit pretty much allows anything to steal – whether it’s underage content, misogynyor even transphobia — if someone is excited by this.”

Her main concern, however, is what might happen when she walks away for good. “I am one of many people – mostly women – who are doing their best to fight this. But I won’t have so much time in the future,” says Nadia, who is between jobs. “I hope there will be someone who can replace me.”

Meanwhile, members of r/BanFemaleHateSubs say they are baffled by Reddit’s lack of direct action to stop the communities they banned from returning. “Ban Escapes aren’t allowed on Reddit, but these subs keep coming back,” says Alex. “It makes me wonder if Reddit is somewhat supportive of these communities.”

He cites the example of violentacrez, a Reddit user who managed several underage content subtitles and had close relationships with many Reddit staff in the 2010s. Stealing anything – whether it’s underage content, misogyny or even transphobia – if anyone gets turned on by it,” Alex says.

Nadia is simply exasperated by Reddit’s refusal to fight depravity on its platform. “I’m by no means an expert or a techie, and I find these groups so easily. In less than an hour, that’s more bands than I can count on my hands. It’s shameful,” she said.

“I’m sure there are people at Reddit who work hard, but clearly they don’t work hard enough,” Nadia adds. “It takes a long time for these groups to be banned or dismantled. It shouldn’t be that difficult.

When approached by To input For comment, a Reddit spokesperson did not respond to specific questions related to this story. “Our site-wide policies explicitly prohibit the sexualization of minors, non-consensual sharing of intimate media, and hate based on identity or vulnerability,” the spokesperson said via email.

“As noted in our annual Transparency Report, our dedicated security teams routinely take action against communities and users for this behavior, including removing communities that escape a ban, and we will continue to enforce our policies across all the platform.”

“If I thought things were hopeless, I wouldn’t be apart of this community.

Ian thinks Reddit’s approach needs to change. “There are so many things we flag that come back to us as not violating the content policy,” he says. “Even if it’s not, they should still care about this stuff getting published.”

He points to r/MotherDaughter, an active subreddit with over 160,000 members where users share photos of mothers and daughters to explain what they would do to them sexually. (“I would love to see them each get on one of those taps and make out,” one commenter said of a photo of a mother posing with her adult daughter outside a draft beer bar.)

Ian alleges there have been horrific cases in which members of r/MotherDaughter have sexualized mothers photographed with children as young as seven. “This little girl’s post did not violate their content policy,” Ian says of a post he flagged. “Maybe they should change [the policy].”

Although Ian feels discouraged by Reddit’s lack of support, like many other r/BanFemaleHateSubs members, he’s not going to let it stop him. If I thought things were hopeless, I wouldn’t be part of this community and wouldn’t talk about it. I wouldn’t do anything,” he said.

“The ultimate goal would be to stop this behavior,” continues Ian, “and for the generation of boys growing up now to know and believe that doing this sort of thing online is wrong.”

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