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More Than A Bystander

    Chances are that at some point in your daily life you have witnessed, heard or seen someone act in a way that was derogatory, degrading, abusive or violent towards women. Be it in the form of a joke, cat call, comment, put down, or physical or sexual assault, this is all violence against women.

The twitter account @UBCDimewatch was deleted today. Its stated aim was to find “dimes” (attractive women) at UBC. However, for months, it was much more frequently a repository of blatantly sexist put downs aimed at women, like the one above. It also contained “creepshots” – candid photos of unknowing women along with comments making reference to certain parts of their anatomy. It was sleazy. The evidence now strongly suggests it was the work of a group of members of the UBC Men’s Hockey team.

Yesterday morning, the @UBCDimewatch account unveiled a related website, thedimewatch.com. This website was registered to “Big Dog” Ben Schmidt, a player on the UBC Thunderbirds Men’s Hockey team. The website registration information was quickly made private shortly after this fact was revealed, though Schmidt does acknowledge registering the domain and building the website.

Schmidt, while not running from the domain registration, is hiding from any connection to @UBCDimewatch. He disavows all of the content of the website and the twitter feed and claims to have been hired by “a friend” to construct the website, nothing more. He has not elaborated on who his “friend” in this case is.

It seems plausible, likely even, that multiple people were behind the @UBCDimewatch account. Ilan Cumberbirch, another Thunderbirds hockey player, said Schmidt was innocent. He tweeted (and has since deleted): “@ubcinsiders sleep at night, seen some scumbag detective work in my day, sewering innocent citizens #NoCredibility #WrongfulAccusation #JOKE

So it should not come as a surprise to learn that other people have accused Cumberbirch of being involved too (see above). It is merely a coincidence, no doubt, that Cumberbirch and the mysterious party behind @UBCDimewatch both use the same model of 3-year old Blackberry phone to take photos.

In another bizarre coincidence, Schmidt also uses the same model phone, as a “follower” who sumitted a photo to @UBCDimewatch.

Regardless of who exactly was involved, a typical observer would come to the conclusion that whoever was tweeting from this account was more than likely a player on the UBC Men’s hockey team.

Be More Than A Bystander

This poster is currently up on a board in the SUB.

The UBC Thunderbirds are taking part in the “Be More Than a Bystander” campaign, aimed at combatting violence against women, violence which can include a “joke, cat call, comment, put down”. The essence of the campaign is to encourage people to speak up when they witness violence against women, to call people out when they’re insulting and objectifying women, in order to create “a culture that no longer sits idly by, condoning violence against women through its silence.”

The Thunderbird athletes putatively behind @UBCDimewatch were the ones initiating violence against women exactly as described in this campaign by composing a consistent stream of sexist comments, jokes, and put downs. Yesterday, people decided to “be more than a bystander” and to speak up against it. The response of many of UBC’s student athletes and their friends was to then direct their harassment towards anyone who pointed out and challenged @UBCDimewatch’s inappropriate behaviour. Personal attacks continue to be directed my way. An AMS councillor who engaged in the fray was labelled a bitch by an athlete, a sentiment subsequently echoed by other athletes and friends.

UBC’s student athletes are representatives of the university. Once UBC caught wind of this all this morning, the fallout was swift. Tweets were deleted from personal accounts, as well as a number of other vulgar anonymous accounts clearly run by UBC student athletes. But the true colours of many of UBC’s student athletes were made very clear last night. Supportive of outright sexism and harassment.

Shame on the UBC student athletes who think it’s acceptable to insult and objectify women.

Shame on those who harrass people who oppose and challenge this sexist and inappropriate behaviour.

Shame on those that think both of these unacceptable behaviours should be allowed to be conducted anonymously.

I’m going to continue to be more than a bystander and say: shame on them.

Discussion

Comments are disallowed for this post.

  1. Yea, I definitely got called fat for
    tweeting about going to Menchies. I blocked & reported but nothing ever came of it.

    Posted by Samantha | October 24, 2012, 7:21 pm
  2. Is it not a coincidence that many of the individuals that dime watch “harassed” also follow dime watch? The humor of dime watch was that it was a caricature and is similar if not based off hundreds maybe thousands of other accounts on twitter. I agree that it was out of line in many occasions, but the site was not affiliated with UBC hockey until an individual exposed the account. Hundreds of male and female students followed the account…for the humour. If you are easily offended, a feminist, or take things seriously then block the account.

    You can not censor the internet, other accounts will pop up.

    Posted by Sarah | October 24, 2012, 9:19 pm
  3. As a student athlete i’m offended by this article. The fact I once followed dime watch or that I am an athlete should not mean I am grouped as supporting violence against women. I am an advocate for violence against women in all areas of life and feel that this article has generalized athletes as individuals who support violence against women. If anything it is quite the opposite. As a female athlete the athletic body at UBC has supported me incredibly, and in no way supports violence against women. The account also was not followed exclusively by athletes, but the student body as a whole. The humour is nothing to do with being an athlete.

    Posted by Alex | October 24, 2012, 9:25 pm
  4. Ya, I agree with both of the above comments. Nothing to do with being an athlete, and people just need to lighten up. This article is pretty ill informed and I feel bad for the guys singled out since most people in the know, know where the sources for dime watch come from.

    Posted by Rob | October 24, 2012, 10:20 pm
  5. This article is a twaddle of what goes on in the “Dimewatch” account. I know dozens of UBC student-athlete women who follow the account because they find it hilarious, and they themselves are sometimes the ones featured. I, myself, was featured in a ‘tweet’ that, if taken seriously, would have offended somebody who did not have prior knowledge of the satirical nature of the account. I can understand the frustration and disrespect that some of the people featured in the tweeting feel, although the fact that it is an account with a target at providing comedic relief to fellow UBC students means it should be judged similarly. I would condone sexism and harassment in a general sense, but this is a subjective case that should be judged with a very subjective nature.

    What I have written above is my intellectual property.

    Posted by Harry | October 24, 2012, 11:04 pm
  6. This article makes it seem like

    1. “UBC Athletes” as whole were part of this. I don’t know the exact number of how many were, maybe 10? That is a small percentage of the 400 athletes at UBC. Please don’t generalize. It is offensive to the other 390 athletes who did not participate in this.

    2. This is a problem unique to UBC Athletics/UBC Hockey. I think that instead of addressing it as such, you should portray it as a societal problem, which it is. Misoginy exists outside of the confines of UBC athletics. “Shame on the UBC student athletes who think it’s acceptable to insult and objectify women”— no, shame on everyone who thinks this is okay. Many people followed this account who were not part of athletics, and many people within athletics had no association to it. Athletics isn’t the core of this problem.

    Posted by James | October 24, 2012, 11:06 pm
  7. I can’t begin to express just how disappointed the above comments make me. You all have clearly missed the whole fucking point of this article. If your first response to this kind of thing is to get upset on behalf of the people being called out you have some seriously perverse value systems. At no point are /all/ athletes categorically incriminated, only those who obviously knew this was going on. And to say that this kind of account and content should be allowed and excused because “if you don’t like it, you don’t have to follow it” is the worst kind of apologism. There is no room for that sort of bullshit (not to mention weak thinking) on a university campus. The sexism, misogyny, and pure horseshit spewed by this Twitter account were reprehensible and abhorrent, and nobody in their right mind should be coming to the authors’ defence.

    Posted by Jeremy | October 24, 2012, 11:51 pm
  8. I don’t doubt that most of the followers of @UBCDimeWatch found it humorous, nor that humour was the intent. The creators of this account should not be surprised that some found it offensive, however. Twitter is a very public space unless you lock down your privacy settings. Given that the name of the account included UBC, the university was bound to respond to complaints about this account when they arose. And given the public nature of twitter, that exposure should have been expected. Frankly, the people involved in this are idiots for not realizing that by associating the university to their account, they would eventually make it UBC’s business to deal with them.

    What consenting adults do in their own private spaces is only of concern to them. When it spills over into public spaces, as most of the territory of social media is, then they have exposed other people to their activities and should be adult enough to accept the consequences.

    UBC athletes accept that a part of the payback for the university supporting varsity athletics is an expectation that the athletes will conduct themselves publicly in ways that don’t embarrass the university. Whatever you think of “dime watch” is irrelevant: this incident has become a public embarrassment for UBC.

    If the “small number” of UBC athletes involved in this situation had any balls, they would take responsibility for this situation, and take ownership of the consequences so that the rest of the athletes on campus don’t have to wear their shame. If they don’t appreciate just how big a black mark they have put on their program, they don’t deserve to wear a Tbird uniform, and they certainly don’t understand “team.”

    Posted by Thom | October 25, 2012, 12:14 am
  9. Honestly there’s nothing surprising that the same dolts who engage in misogynistic juveniliness don’t have the basic smarts to register a private domain name and not post from personal devices.

    Has anyone asked the Athletics department if they’re investigating? This is pretty damning, and it wouldn’t surprise me if the Van Sun wasn’t following up right now.

    Posted by Alex Lougheed | October 25, 2012, 5:21 am
  10. @Alex: “I am an advocate for violence against women in all areas of life”

    So you have, on the record, stated that you do support violent actions being committed against women. Well done.

    The dimewatch actions are blatantly against UBC policy and the administration will (should) act quickly and ensure proper discipline is administered to the offending individuals.

    Posted by Shanda | October 25, 2012, 6:08 am
  11. ^Shanda, Alex said “…that I am an athlete should not mean I am grouped as supporting violence against women,” right before that. Also later on restates it so I think it’s quite apparent the statement you referred to was a typo or something.

    Posted by Harry | October 25, 2012, 7:50 am
  12. One of the problems with ideologies of violence is that very often individuals who are the subjects of that violence will act as though they support it or agree with it. Calling the dime watch site ‘humourous’ really misses the point. Suggesting that what consenting adults do in private is their own m=business, misses the point that the web IS NOT PRIVATE.

    Objectifying women (or men) as objects of sexuality, ranking them, commenting upon them, is an act of social violence whether one thinks it funny or not.

    Next thing we will be hearing is that the Lady Godiva ride will be on again. The same arguments were used in defense of that inappropriate act when it was finally banned as are being used to defend the ‘hunourous’ dime watch site.

    Violence against women takes many forms. Objectification and ridicule on a web site is one part of the spectrum of violence that authorizes date rate and physical acts of domestic violence.

    Posted by Charles Menzies | October 25, 2012, 9:32 am
  13. Free speech allows you to be misogynistic. You can say that you think all women are sluts. If that is your opinion, you can say that, type or write that in a public space. But if you direct misogynistic comments at a specific person, especially in a public space, then you invite yourself to all sorts of repercussions. Defamation, harassment, etc etc. The repercussions would be minimal though. A plaintiff in a defamation suit would likely not be awarded a massive sum of money and a criminal suit would not mean jail time. These are just the facts. Humour is not a legal defence.

    Posted by Drake | October 25, 2012, 9:50 am
  14. “Free speech allows you to be misogynistic”.

    I think you might be missing the point here. Nobody said that this kind of behaviour is illegal. The claim is that it’s creepy, disgusting and an embarrassment to the university. Just because you’re “allowed” to do something in the legal sense doesn’t mean you’re not an asshole.

    Posted by Alex | October 25, 2012, 10:40 am
  15. Found one of the tweets from the account in Google search results: “Campus is a little quieter these days but the #dimes are definitely there. Keep your eyes peeled and sniff out the #DimesInHeat #dimewatch”

    Disgusting. I’m not that fluent in the nuances of language and meaning, but even I can tell that the person behind that tweet sees women as less than human. It certainly gives a sexual predator vibe.

    As for the people making excuses, just wow.

    Posted by Daniel M | October 25, 2012, 11:12 am
  16. Of course being “allowed” to do something and being an asshole are completely different. Others were defending the twitter handle/website based on humour. What I was trying to get at was that some of the stuff posted could have resulted in legal action. Not much of it, but some could have. Specifically if there were “creep” shots that clearly identified someone and were followed by derogatory comments. That would be defamation. So to say if “you don’t like it, unfollow it” doesn’t hold up on a legal level. Regardless if someone else finds this morally apprehensible or not, when you start crossing legal boundaries you are up what someone else called earlier “shitcreek.”

    Posted by Drake | October 25, 2012, 11:25 am
  17. The comments in question are not defamatory because they are opinions – no matter how distasteful. The law is more complex than simply establishing that derogatory statements were made about an identifiable person – if you’re interested, read TorStar v. Grant for a survey of The tort of defamation in Canada. And by the way, there is no way in hell that this meets the threshold for criminal defamation, as you suggested above.

    It is also not illegal to take photographs of someone in a public place without their consent. It’s just gross and creepy. The problem is that the bro subculture that finds this kind of thing acceptable is in a position of representing the university. And that’s embarrassing for everyone involved.

    Posted by Alex | October 25, 2012, 12:22 pm
  18. This is simply a poor excuse for journalism. It’s one thing to report on an event; it’s another to present circumstantial evidence based in a camera model that I wouldn’t be the least surprised is used by 5% of the student population.

    I don’t condone misogynistic actions, nor do I think that that the “joke” behind the whole twitter account was in good taste. This whole attitude–of collectively objectifying women–probably stems from the herd mentality of junior hockey, but it doesn’t automatically connect individuals to the events. The suggestions in this article, I imagine, could qualify as libel.

    Posted by Will | October 25, 2012, 11:57 pm
  19. “morally apprehensible”

    Reprehensible. Let’s crack the dictionary before pressing send

    Posted by Will | October 25, 2012, 11:59 pm
  20. Last I checked, UBC Insiders doesn’t strive to be journalism. It’s a blog. On the internets. With opinions, and a perspective. It just happens to try to uncover things that no one else would.

    Libel involves an implication of fact which is not the fact. The details above /are/ fact. If you believe it to be libel, try it in court. You will lose, because you’re wrong. And in all likelihood you’re also a misogynist’s defendant. Prepare yourself.

    Posted by Alex Lougheed | October 31, 2012, 10:07 pm
  21. “It is also not illegal to take photographs of someone in a public place without their consent. It’s just gross and creepy”

    Actually, what is “gross and creepy” is the idea that we’re subjugated under any standard but the Rule of Law. No Law = No Crime. But that is an idea foreign to many University people, who are more into “policy” and “groupthink” than Law, which is, of course, eternal, the same in Athens and Sparta.

    The University-culture of pretending that offending people is the same as violating the law is very sick and is indicative of a descent into totalitarian madness on the part of the University system.

    Also, I think we had the 60s—sexual liberation, and what-not? It’s time to stop acting over-mature, as directed by your University Masters, who have indoctrinated you to be humorless and more worried about offending others than creating a culture that subjugates people and denies them their freedom of expression.

    Posted by Richard Roe | November 12, 2012, 6:03 pm