On July 14, it was announced that Reddit administrators had formally begun enforcing site-wide rules which classified the word “groomer” as an “Anti-LGBTQ” slur.
The policy came to widespread attention after it was praised by Slate writer Alejandra Caraballo, who posted a screenshot of a Reddit post from a subreddit encouraging users to file reports against anyone on the site seen using the term.
The original post referenced by Caraballo was from r/AgainstHateSubreddits, a subreddit dedicated to rallying users in an attempt to have people and boards removed from Reddit for various terms of service violations.
The post had taken aim at r/PoliticalCompassMemes, a subreddit which often parodies left-wing social movements, and has been a hub for memes about the recent rise in gender ideology. In light of the rule enforcement changes, r/PoliticalCompassMemes had allegedly been educating users on how to navigate the policies, and avoid being banned from the site.
As a result, the moderator of r/AgainstHateSubreddits called for the permanent suspension of r/PoliticalCompassMemes, stating: “Reddit must not waste any more time. Reddit must permanently ban PCM, and permanently suspend its operators, and permanently suspend its participants.”
But the announcement that “groomer” would be classified as an anti-LGBTQ slur caused waves amongst those who felt it was an overstep, and even drew the condemnation of some LGBT groups.
On July 16, Gays Against Groomers — a grassroots coalition which describes itself as fighting “against the sexualization and indoctrination of children” — released a statement condemning the move by Reddit, calling it “reprehensible and offensive.”
“By banning this word from their platform in such terms, Reddit is not only inadvertently expressing their support for the grooming and abuse of children, but also paints out community … as those who support and engage in it.”
Speaking to Reduxx, Gays Against Groomers founder Jaimee Mitchell expressed similar concerns about the implicit suggestions present in the move.
“Conflating the LGBT community with the word groomer, even in an attempt to discourage us from being labeled as such, is an admission there is an innate connection between our community and child predators.”
While only established in June, Mitchell’s campaign has seen a prolific rise in following and support, emphasizing the growing concern many have about the impact of gender ideology.
“We, and our gay and lesbian elders, have worked tirelessly for decades to prove that perception society had of us was wrong.” Mitchell says, “What Reddit has done erases the progress we have made, and only furthers the misconception that our community as a whole supports the sexualization and indoctrination of children.”
In recent years, Reddit has become home to a number of scandals involving selective rule enforcement.
In 2019, subreddit r/GenderCritical was permanently banned from the site after Reddit overhauled its ‘hate speech’ terms of service. Subreddits such as r/BanFemaleHateSubs, a board dedicated to fighting misogyny on the platform were initially picked up in the sweep, as well as r/JoanneRowling, a J.K Rowling fan subreddit.
Other boards saw themselves either forced to undergo an overhaul or flat-out censored by the site. r/Detransition, a subreddit for individuals who have ended their gender transition, endured what some of the users described as a ‘coup,‘ with transgender Reddit moderators taking over the board and beginning to heavily regulate content.
In addition to its apparent hostility to feminist boards, Reddit has long been considered a hub for pornographic material distribution, and is frequently at the center of child safeguarding scandals.
Reddit experienced widespread site protests after bringing on Aimee Challenor as a top administrator in 2021.
Challenor, a trans-identified male, had previously come under fire for hiring his father into a safety-sensitive position within the UK Green Party. At the time, Challenor’s father was out on bail after being charged for the rape and torture of a 10-year-old girl. Challenor nevertheless hid his father’s past from the public before it was discovered in what the party would later call a “major safeguarding risk.” David Challenor was ultimately sentenced to 22 years in prison for the horrific crime.
While under scrutiny, Challenor’s romantic partner was similarly embroiled in controversy after netizens discovered he had admitted to becoming aroused while fantasizing about children being sexually abused.
Challenor was ultimately fired from his Reddit post, but concerns about the site’s rule-enforcement team remained.
Last year, a Reddit post from 2019 began re-circulating in which a number of transgender “power-moderators” were exposed for ‘grooming’ minors into taking hormone replacement therapy. The post included screenshots of u/DrewiePoodle, who manages over 80 subreddits, bragging about supplying minors with illicit hormones. The user who compiled the information was subsequently suspended.
Most recently, the site has been sued by a victim of revenge porn after it failed to remove images of the victim posted by her ex-partner from when she was under the age of 18.
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Author: Anna Slatz
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