James Deen is just the latest in an expanding circle of celebrities who have had rape accusations brought against them. This past weekend, Deen's ex-girlfriend and fellow adult actress, Stoya, stepped forward on Twitter and let her digital voice be heard. Since then, thousands of people have rushed to Stoya's support. The hashtag #IStandWithStoya increasingly gained popularity as people said the words that every victim of sexual abuse needs to hear, "I believe you."
And yet, in true judge, jury, and executioner form, the opposition of the internet starting asking questions. Why did she come forward now? Why did she have Deen featured on her site after the incident was said to have occurred? And finally, the biggest question, why did Stoya choose to make this accusation over Twitter?
Keyboard warriors have been using the internet as a safe haven for grievance-airing since the dawn of dial-up. The screen is a faceless entity, standing before us without judgment, a blank canvas to do with as we please. On the positive side of the spectrum, people have felt safer to speak their minds and come to terms with the things that would have been considered taboo in face-to-face conversation. On the negative side, it has become a hate-infused Utopia for all of the trolls lurking below the bridges of Cyberland.
Stoya came forward; spoke out against Deen, and the internet world rushed to her support. People BELIEVED a woman. This is something that was once completely unheard of, and the digital age has worked wonders by allowing this woman to find comfort in the arms of thousands of supporters, right at her fingertips.
But the trolls have another story. Stoya came forward on Twitter instead of to the police, and is just the next in a long line of women to publicly defame a male celebrity in hopes of elevating her own descending star. She's the porn equivalent of Gone Girland the digital era is encouraging her malice. She won't be the last to do this, that evil bitch.
I'd like to say to you now that if you believe Stoya or not, it doesn't matter. Questioning her methods, timing, or her site management skills is useless. Telling her that she should have gone to the police instead of Twitter is borderline idiotic. It is not our business what Stoya chooses to do with her story. It is not our business to judge her. This judgement, however, is the problem that inevitably arises from accusations made over social media.
When we talk about something that not everyone wants to hear, there is going to be backlash as much as there will be support. There are no guarantees that the internet is a safe place to talk about ANYTHING, let alone rape. But that does not mean that we should stop talking.
Stoya had every right to come forward over Twitter, as would anyone else in her position. She has been another player in a key discussion about rape and rape culture that will hopefully deliver some powerful changes. As an adult entertainer, she has opened an additional discussion about the treatment of women in the porn industry. The discussion itself is worth any fraction of a doubt.
This is what we need to be focusing on, not the guilt or innocence of an accuser, or even of the accused. The internet is not in charge of deciding these things.
No one is safe on the internet, but there are times when we must get rid of the idea of "safety" and do what we think is right. Fear of judgment needs to be set aside. Standing up against rape culture is infinitely more important than keeping silent. Stoya is just another woman who is stepping up to the challenge. It's not our place to attack the enemy or the victim. It's our duty to defend the cause.
And for the record, I do believe Stoya. Whatever she's doing right now, I hope that her confession has brought her some peace. Sometimes, that's all you can hope for.