Bullying has become quite a problem lately, or at least become more of a recognized one, particularly here in the United States. Many children have been committing suicide or attempting to do so because of bullying. I am going to ask that you humor me and read this entire post. It's very wordy, and I apologize. Please, please bear with me until the end. I promise it's worth it. There's also some swearing, and I apologize for that too.
The doll hobby has become rife with cyberbullying that transcends age demographics. Due to the anonymity of the internet, adults can bully adults or even children. The reverse is also true. Without the face to face filter that encourages polite social interaction, people feel free to say and do as they please.
Bullying and hatred never won anyone to any cause, ever- at least not without a lot swords and bloodshed (Crusades or French Witch Trials, anyone?). Take fundamentalist preachers- how many people do you think they get to consider their side when they are yelling and screaming and tearing the listener apart? Not many, I can assure you. Just check any number of videos on "fundamentalist street preaching" or "fundamentalist preaching at college" and see what you get. There is a reason people are encouraged to live by example, and kill 'em with kindess. There is a reason why extremism causes more harm than good.
Please note that this is not a stab at religion or expression of it, which is and should be completely unrelated to dolls. Rather, this is a very powerful image of what's been going on in the doll world regarding the recast vs. legitimate ethics debate and the first thing I thought of, so please forgive me if I've caused any offense. Both sides scream, curse, yell, and threaten the other side, resulting in a communication block, hurt feelings, and deeper divides causing nothing but pain and misery.
As the adage says, one catches more flies with honey than vinegar.
Individuals have been singled out, attacked, harassed, threatened. Individuals have gone out of their way in attempts to involve government agencies, lawyers, Paypal, even doll companies. What purpose does this serve? To belittle someone? To cause someone to live in fear? This same thing occurs with big political issues: gay marriage, abortion, gun ownership….and not a single person anywhere has been won over to the other side with beatings, hate crimes, and harassment. So why does it keep happening? Better yet: why the hell is it happening in a hobby related to toys?
Sorry folks, but you are in a hobby about toys. You may engage in artistic expression, but they are still toys. You are taking the kind of response common to seriously highly-charged debate topics and directing them at dolls.
Consider this for a moment.
Why are you not channeling your "morality" into actual change? I volunteer my time, I donate food and money to charity…what do you do? Can you channel this energy used to question someone else's moral choices on the internet into something actually good?
This is something this hobby, adults especially, really need to begin to think about. Just hiding behind the veil of the internet doesn't give you cause to be a raging asshole, no matter what side of the debate you fall on.
So where do I get off critiquing you and lecturing you about bullies? Well first of all, I'm highly educated. I'm pretty brilliant. I've held some pretty cool jobs before becoming a stay at home mom, and I've been around the block before. Not good enough? I have been homeless, I have been the victim of abuse, of bullying, of racism. I know this shit first hand. Not all of it, but a lot of it.
Need an even better reason? I used to be a bully. A nasty, verbal bully. I could cut someone up ways and down with the sheer power of a verbal lashing. I've lost friends and made enemies by my inability to check myself and my love of drama. Drama truly is a rush like no other. Verbally assaulting someone makes you feel smart, satisfied, and most of all, right. Add that to the blissful anonymity of the internet and you've a recipe for cruelty. I'm older now and more mature, and I know what pain words can cause. I never want anyone to feel the fear I've felt for only an instant thanks to Souldoll. I can't imagine what those who deal with the vehement loudmouths have to go through. I don't want to be that to anyone ever again.
With that rant over, let us get to the meat of this post.
What is harassment?
Harassment is governed by state laws, which vary by state, but is generally defined as a course of conduct which annoys, threatens, intimidates, alarms, or puts a person in fear of their safety. Harassment is unwanted, unwelcomed and uninvited behavior that demeans, threatens or offends the victim and results in a hostile environment for the victim. Harassing behavior may include, but is not limited to, epithets, derogatory comments or slurs and lewd propositions, assault, impeding or blocking movement, offensive touching or any physical interference with normal work or movement, and visual insults, such as derogatory posters or cartoons.
Cyberbullying has been defined by The National Crime Prevention Council: “When the Internet, cell phones or other devices are used to send or post text or images intended to hurt or embarrass another person (quick source from Wikipedia).
Cyberbullying is the use of technology for purposes of harassing, embarrassing, humiliating, or shaming someone. Cyberbullies try to threaten various aspects of the victims life (for example: their employment or online reputation) and encourage others to do the same. Cyberstalking goes further than this, with the person issuing lies, threats, and monitoring. Cyberstalkers can be put in jail.
Many people in the recast debate have been obviously guilty of the things described above and can be pretty petulant when confronted with this fact. A bully is a bully, no matter how righteous that bully behaves.
Many states have laws against cyberbullying and harassment, and cyberbullies, stalkers, and those who harass other people can be prosecuted. So while there might be something of a gray area regarding the legalities of recasts there is no gray area with this stuff. (Some of you adult bullies might be lucky though, as some states only have laws protecting minors; you still aren't safe from charges of harassment, however.)
If you want to talk criminal activities, please be aware that in a great number of states, many of the actions being taken by people in the doll community taking it upon themselves to champion the anti-recast cause and harass the opposition are criminal, and can be prosecuted.
Now, the point of this is NOT to make you feel afraid. It's to get you to think. It's to get you to have a little empathy.
How is the recast debate creating an atmosphere of hatred and drama? How are your actions contributing to the drama? Are you a bully?
If you have to ask, yes you probably are. You know darn well what being nasty does. It just fuels hate and negativity, poisoning any joy someone gets out of this hobby.
What does contacting doll companies about recast owners accomplish?
Nothing. All you would succeed in doing is preventing the person from accessing a source of legitimate dolls. This would only encourage the person to continue to purchase recasts.
What does alerting federal agencies or paypal accomplish?
Nothing, obviously, as there have been no er-my-gerd-illegal-dolly-crackdowns in the news. Paypal will decide in favor of a buyer who unwittingly purchased a conterfit good, this is true. You may succeed in getting that person's paypal shut down, but all it takes is another email to get one up and running again.
What does reporting recast owners to Flikr and Facebook groups do?
Nothing. Facebook ToS do not allow trafficking in illegal goods or engaging in illegal activities, most likely referring to drugs and the sex trade…recast bjds are not illegal goods, and the recast bjd groups have been reported. They are still there, so obviously facebook disagrees with you.
Buying and selling is against Flikr's ToS whether the item in question is legitimate or recast. It is not against Flikr's ToS to take pictures of counterfeit or bootleg things.
Let's think for a minute....
I see you've purchased a hoodie on DoA with a print of a Pokemon on it. Did the seamstress pay Pokemon for the rights to put Pikachu on that hoodie? Is the artist who originally created Pikachu seeing any money from that hoodie? No? Isn't this bootlegging or infringement of copyright? What about people who profit by selling fan art with Pikachu on it?
I see you're wearing Chuck Taylors…oh wait. Those aren't Converses. Those are the Payless knock-offs. And what is this? Your doll has a few pairs too? Oh, you even have little Nikes with the logo? Did Nike receive a penny of that? Did Converse? No?
I see you're holding a Gucci bag…oh wait. That's not a Gucci bag. That's a knockoff you bought in Mexico.
I hear you saying, "That's not the point! Where is the respect for the artist? Dolls are different because of the artist…."
Oh really? How is a doll artist any different from the guy that does art for cereal boxes or even designed the cereal itself? From the guy that designed the American Girl doll? How about from the woman who spends all day in the lab chemically engineering brand name soda only to have the knockoff appear months later? Or how about the creative people that produce and direct movies when outright, b-rated knockoffs appear to cash in on the fad? Are these people receiving any money for their hard work?
Are recasters employing people at slave-wage in China? Probably. But so are Tommy Hilfiger, Apple, and half of the companies producing goods in the world today.That's how China markets itself...cheap labor. That's why U.S. jobs get outsourced there. It isn't pretty.
See my point?
No matter how you feel about artistic integrity, somewhere in your life I can practically guarantee you own a knockoff or bootleg something or something that was a knockoff or bootleg at one point in its history (Barbie, much? Seriously, google it.). Although, maybe you're the kind of person that doesn’t buy knockoff anything…maybe you're all, "Hey, forget the Great Value Cocoa Cool, I want the Cocoa Puffs." Good for you. You still don't have the right to be a dick to anyone else.
So in a nutshell, bullying is a nasty, mean-spirited, spiteful thing to do. Those who engage in it are probably compensating for some other guilt that they feel or getting an adrenaline rush from verbally beating the crap out of someone else. (Hey, I used to be a bully, remember? I know what I'm talking about.)
And since I picked on the Fundamentalists earlier, let me conclude with a wise saying from the Bible:
And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? (Matthew 7:3)
In other words, worry about yourself first.
As a personal finish, I used to own recasts. I make no excuses for why I have purchased them; my reasons are my own. I own quite a few legitimate dolls as well, and I plan on owning lots more of those. In fact, I just blew over a grand at a legitimate company I love to say thank you for the work that they've done, especially with all the flack they took for these particular dolls in the first place. These legitimate dolls will not be going out for recast. And just FYI, I do not know any recasters on a personal or professional level nor am I affiliated with or an agent of any recasters.
My philosophy about recast ownership and which dolls I will and will not buy via recast has changed and grown as I have changed and grown. It's no one's business what this philosophy is, beyond my need to protect myself from further harassment: You can rest assured that I will never by a recast of an "artist" doll.
I will not treat you like shit for your dolls. I will love you as a person and as a doll collector. I will try to be kind to you always and remind you we both love dolls. I will try to remember your dolls' names, follow your blogs and your stories, love the work that you have put your heart into. The joy of dolls may be the one thing that connects us…
Now stop being an asshat and go change the world.
and for you adult victims: