XOJane Irresponsibly Names Abuse Victim, Internet Responds Beautifully

internet commenters

Earlier this week, XOJane ran an article in its popular first-person, confessional-style “It Happened To Me”series entitled “IHTM: I Live With My Abuser.” In what was clearly a blunder on the part of the editorial staff, the story was published along side the author’s real name and photo, opening her up to danger and retribution. The victim claimed that she had never reported the abuse, and that “given the opportunity, he would abuse [her] again.” Readers mobilized with a wildly coordinated and positive response, deciding to take their community elsewhere and to try to help the writer get out of her dangerous situation. Given commenters Internet-wide have a reputation for being somewhat lowest common denominator and extremely bloodthirsty, this is an extremely heartening spin on the usual Internet outrage.

When the post was published (it’s since been deleted, but you can get a sense of the comments on this post, or the subsequent and delayed post that addressed the matter), readers created a new forum for “Ex-Janers.” Multitudes of commenters said that they would not be returning to the site and would keep up with the community on the new forum, which is understandable when readers see mistakes like this as a betrayal of trust. Since the XOJane community was so important to their readers, I applaud them for setting up their own space once they decided to leave the site. If XOJ had made too many mistakes to keep their readers, at least their readers didn’t lose their community.

In one of the most impressive displays of positivity that I’ve seen from an Internet screw up, one reader started a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo, with the intention of helping the victim raise enough funds to move out of the home she shares with her abuser. With an initial goal of $500, the campaign has raised an astounding $4735, all of which will go to the victim. Given that financial constraints are what kept her living in the same home as her abuser, this is quantifiable good that will have a real effect on this woman’s life. This is what the internet can do, instead of raging in comment threads (that’s not to say that the XOJ readers didn’t have a completely valid reason to make their displeasure known to the XOJ editors).

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    • CMJ

      I have been all over this shit – I was so, so, so, so, so angry.

      That being said, the XOJane Community really stepped up big time.

      ETA: The writer technically used a pseudonym (a combination of her first and middle name) so I think she wanted anonymity, BUT, in the comment thread of the now deleted article, when XOJane told her they were going to run the article THEY ASKED HER FOR HER PICTURE (this was in a comment by the author). In fact, one of the staff said in the comments that “they usually ask for selfies for IHTM.” How any human could read that story and think to ask for a fucking picture enrages me.

      Also ETA: The way XOJane did everything in their power to cover up Belle Knox’s identity and didn’t extend the same courtesy to this girl sickens me.

      • Bobcat Corduroy

        Belle Knox is apparently their new “feminist” scholar and hero. Clearly, they have an agenda ($) with that collaboration, and have a vested interest in protecting their sacred cash cow. They put their priorities where the dollars lie.

      • Pretty Little Ballcrusher

        Don’t get me started.

      • CMJ

        Yep. Seriously. The rage I have felt these past couple of days knows no bounds.

      • Greater Cornholio

        An 18 year old porn star enjoying minute 8 of her 15. Yeah, that’s who I want speaking about women’s issues.

      • http://www.caitlinthornton.com/ Caitlin Thornton

        [guttural sigh]

      • Greater Cornholio

        Caitlin, run. Run far, far away. Save yourself.

        Sigh all you want. Sydney Leathers threw away every bit of integrity and credibility she had and she only lasted a few WEEKS. Knox is headed for disgraced celebutard city and Jane is driving the bus. She may get a gig on F- List Celebrity Boxing in a few years. That’s if she’s lucky.

      • http://www.caitlinthornton.com/ Caitlin Thornton

        have def been feeling conflicted for awhile now. that yoga piece kind of did me in. idk dude. have only had a positive experience as a writer personally, but… i really just don’t know. ugh.

      • Greater Cornholio

        I like you, always have. Don’t let this circus bring you down.

      • http://www.facebook.com/scottweinstein21570 Scott Weinstein

        You’re throroughly awesome, Caitlin, and always will be.

      • LeopardL

        I wish I can like upvote this more than once.

      • cat butt

        I just finished reading a Gawker article about Ms Knox doing a five minute striptease last night at some sad “gentlemans club.”

        And I got yelled at on XO for saying I don’t need a teenager telling me about feminism.


      • Bobcat Corduroy

        She’s taking the same path as Sydney Leathers. As far as feminism goes, she needs to sit her butt down and learn more before she starts trying to “educate” others.

        And hi! Hope you’re over with the rest of us now! :D

      • pixie

        Also, one of the commenters on the response post mentioned that XOJ used her name for a story after explicitly stating that she wanted to remain anonymous.

        So….yeah, I got nothing but rage.

      • http://mawll.org/ Angela_Clare

        If you’re referring to me I’d like to be clear that I didn’t ask to be anonymous, just that my last name be left out. I created this disqus account to reply to any comments and used the name the piece was intended to be published with. My last name is very clunky and identifiable.
        I was also asked for and included photos because I wasn’t concerned with people knowing who I was, just with it being so easy to find out of consideration for everyone else involved in my story.
        But in light of all of that yes, my modest request was completely ignored and the editorial staff barely communicated with me through the whole process.

      • pixie

        Ah, ok. Sorry I misread! (I’m pretty sure it was you, I don’t remember the exact user name, though) But still your request should not have been ignored!

      • AngularFrequency

        The picture of the author stayed in my Feedly feed for a long time after they had taken the picture down and altered the article. The article may still show in Feedly after deletion. I just couldn’t bring myself to look for it. The internet is a snapshot that never fades, and online editors need to be especially aware of that in their job responsibilities. (or irresponsibility, in the case of xoj)

    • Pretty Little Ballcrusher

      I’m so proud of these ladies. So proud.

      • Sexy Robotic Arms Dealer

        Not the men?

        LOL who am I kidding. What man would post in a mostly women’s oriented website? ppfftt!

      • Andrea

        We have a few over at Mommyish ;)

      • Sexy Robotic Arms Dealer

        Those Losers!!!

      • Pretty Little Ballcrusher

        If you’re being sarcastic, you’re right. I should’ve given credit to any men who contributed as well.

      • Robotic Socks

        I’m never sarcastic online


    • risamori

      I’m pretty impressed that in the span of a couple days, the community managed to 1) raise almost $5000 to help the person whose article triggered all this, 2) managed to set up a functioning community totally separate from the XOJane site, and 3) managed to get a HUGE number of people on their new forum already. It’s easy to talk a big game about a site going downhill and how you only read it for the community and the editors and writers are kind of outrageous in a bad way, but these women actually did several concrete things about it, which will have an impact going forward on all parties involved. Very exciting.

      • Julia Sonenshein


    • Bobcat Corduroy

      The best thing about XOJane was the commenters. It’s nice to have our own community now without putting up with the low standards and ineptitude that are now the hallmarks of XOJane. It can only grow and get better from here. These women are an incredible bunch.

      • 3rdsister

        Bobcat! I just asked about you the other day! Hope you are well!!

    • Lex_Discipulus

      XOJane screwed up on a lot. The article, the response, amd the subsequent blocking of many of their comentors. Including myself. They made their bed.

    • Amy

      The Gloss writes another article about XOJane… This is getting really old.

      • CMJ

        I’m glad The Gloss covered this. This was a HUGE fuck up on XOJane’s part and I am glad they are being raked over the coals for it.

      • http://SommelierinSneakers.blogspot.com/ SomminSneakers

        XOJane should stop doing stupid shit that’s worth reporting.

    • Crystal

      I love this article. Thank you for your reasoned and well-written discussion of this clusterfuck.

      I was part of the mass XO exodus. I’ll be checking this site out now though!

      • Julia Sonenshein

        Thanks so much! Looking forward to seeing you around here!

      • http://SommelierinSneakers.blogspot.com/ SomminSneakers

        Yay! I fucking love you!

      • Mapsandpeaches

        Hah when I clicked over to this article, it’s amazing how tickled I was to see so many familiar faces in the comments section! I’m enjoying the exjaner forum but there’s somethin’ about the old familiar disqus format.

      • Euryale

        Me too.

      • Boba Fête

        It’s making me happy too :)

    • Chaka ♥

      And once again, XOJane solidifies its place as the punchline of the internet.

      • Kanika Ameerah

        Ahh so this is where you’ve been? I’ve missed your commentary on XO.

    • XONoMo

      XOJane is the biggest piece of shit site on the web run by self-absorbed, fat, whiny white women who use feminism as their blanket excuse to complain about EVERYTHING.

      This article is AWESOME and I’m so glad people are fleeing that sinking shithole.

      Thanks for the link to the new forums, the content of XOJane was always crappy but the commenters were what made the site worth it.

      • MDubz

        Why you gotta hate on the fat ladies tho? Lesley and Marianne are suuuuuuper thoughtful and engaging writers.

      • XoNoMo

        I meant fat as a descriptor, not an insult.
        Also, I was referring to se, Claire, and Emily as well.

        Marianne is actually pretty awesome.

        However since she’s the only decent one in that bushel of very bad apples, I’d said the bunch is spoiled. Sorry Marianne, come to exJaners!

      • Boba Fête

        No, you meant it as an insult. That whole sentence was an insult. At least own it.

      • BrittanyLouis

        You lose all the validity of your statement by using a basic fat insult, along with insulting feminism. No thanks. You’re a shitstain too.

    • http://haleyyael.tumblr.com/ haleyyael

      Thank you for sharing this! If people want to donate directly to CeCi without having Indiegogo keep 4% of the funds raised, they can send it to gofundceci@gmail.com.

      • Julia Sonenshein

        Thanks so much for the info!

    • SimplyMe

      Awesome article

      • Julia Sonenshein


    • LeopardL

      Thank you The Gloss for this awesome post!

      • Julia Sonenshein

        Thanks so much for reading!

    • Abi

      I will say it again, considering their very careful management of the Belle Knox series of articles, wherein her identity and it’s subsequent reveal was so very, very, very well orchestrated, I find it baffling that xoJane extended no editorial judgment on this one.

      The follow up “I don’t see what goes on my site so ummm, not my fault” non apology was again, baffling.

      Clusterfuck really.

    • http://SommelierinSneakers.blogspot.com/ SomminSneakers

      You know what I think is going to happen? I don’t think we will stop watching XOJane, but I do think that sites like TheGloss, Mommyish, TheFrisky, TheHairpin, and The_Toast will start having a more community-based comment section.
      The XOJane site lead the way to an incredibly large amount of women, and all these other great, edited, sites will start to blow up. Then there will be a competition for content.

    • Sam

      So how exactly are the funds getting to the victim ?

      • revbeatman

        The people who set-up the fund have been in contact with the victim.