A beautiful, courageous, somewhat nervous-making idea: naming your victims

A beautiful, courageous, somewhat nervous-making idea: naming your victims May 21, 2014

Darren Cools (husband of Anna Cools, the proprietor of Roots Soap Co.) has founded Her Name, a website built to honor women whose dignity was wounded through pornography.

It’s a simple, anonymous project:

If you want to add the name of a girl you have victimized by lust, please click the Add a Name button and enter her first name. If you remember her face but not her name, give her one. The form is completely anonymous and non-trackable. Use first names only.

Pornography is a grave affront against the personhood of the girl, woman, boy, or man on display — yes, even if he or she is willing and compliant.  I used to think this sounded like some kind of abstract sophistry — almost as if the Church wouldn’t admit that, deep down, it just has a big problem with sexy sexy sex, and is trying to come up with some kind of intellectual excuse for why porn is so bad.

I get it now, though. Porn is just one of the handier tools that the devil is using in this particular era to exterminate, to x out, to deny, to quash, to empty out souls. Even better: to get us to do that to each other. It is bar none the worst thing you can do to another person, to deny their humanity.

I am not sure if Her Name is the best possible way to remedy this. It won’t, of course, matter much to the actual girls and women who have been used; although I suppose they might see their names on the list and realize that at least one person out there recognizes what he has done. Anyway, it could be a great and powerful, genuinely humbling exercise for men (and others) to write down that name, to enter it in the rolls.

At the same time, it feels like there could be the tiniest grain of continued exploitation involved, even if the most benign and well-intentioned kind.  I’m not completely comfortable with the idea of assigning a name to an unknown girl, even if the intention is to honor her.  Naming is powerful, as this project clearly acknowledges — and implies control over the person named. Or am I thinking about it too hard?

Well, what do you think about Her Name?

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Patrick

    I think that on a practical level, the impact is primarily on the men who choose to participate. Darren intentionally did not make Hername.org overtly religious, because porn affects people regardless of their religious convictions. But I think the intention, much like the list of names of the girls kidnapped in Nigeria, is that one can choose to pray for a person by name. And this can have a powerful effect, not only on the person who prays, but on the one he prays for as well.

    • The men shouldn’t be anonymous, unless the name they post is anonymous. The names shouldn’t be porn names because the porn name is part of the dehumanizing lie about the person… Not sure what this leaves the site with, but just my $2.00 (cause, inflation 🙂

      • James H, London

        Why should the men not be anonymous? What purpose would it serve?

        The purpose of the site is to acknowledge the humanity of your victim, and to get her prayed for. If that’s victimisation, I’m afraid it says more about the mentality of the person making the accusation than anything else.

        • sorry this is long. Staying anonymous lets a poster retain a certain amount of “power” over others. It protects one’s vulnerability.For example, I always feel a bit guilty posting on the internet anonymously, when others, like yourself, put their names. – I get it, its not a big deal in the grand scheme. But- I don’t need to explain the context that exact thing has happened before for posters on the Her Name site who want to undo some of the damage porn does. That’s a different kettle of fish. Its like a re-enactment. Maybe it should be called Her Name- His Name. I dunno.

          It seems to me- on a site that is seemingly trying to awaken repentance in those who post there, staying anonymous doesn’t seem to be in good faith, when the “sinner” (porn star) gets the spotlight shone on them, whilst the “perpetrator” still hides his sin. Its some type of re-enactment, as I said- that might not lead to much repentance. Its basically a call to pray for the person sinned against, while not acknowledging one’s own need for prayers in the community. Could be seen by some women as just another power play, a-la “I am the pray-er, you are the pray-ee.”

          But- I don’t think the site is horribly conceived or anything, it seems well-intentioned. I just think it needs some tweaking in order to do what it sets out to do- provide a platform for true repentance and prayer, not just a place to “drop off” some good-intentions.

  • Julie

    I don’t think this is a good idea. It really seems exploitative because there is no better way to get internet hits than by using the names of porn actresses. And why do the victimizers get to remain anonymous? I mean, I get why, but I think it’s going to come off as a list of Women Who Have Made Men Sin even if that isn’t the intention.

    • Damien Fisher
      • Julie

        You just wait until someone writes Bridget the Midget. Then you’ll see.

        • Damien Fisher

          In all seriousness, I like this idea. I share the concerns about continued exploitation, but I see the intention as really positive.

          • Julie

            I’m not saying the intention intention isn’t positive, but I think it could backfire so easily. I think it would be better to encourage people to make a personal list and keep it private. Not everything has to be done on the internet.

          • Sheila C.

            Wouldn’t it be nice to let people submit the names, and then the site owners make a memorial / piece of art using those names, rather than post a list that you can actually *read* online? No problem if there’s a lot of “Janes” on there, but I could see being a woman with an unusual name and being mortified to find it on the list.

  • Anna

    I agree with you about assigning a name; that still seems like keeping her “less than,” as if any old name will do. Maybe he needs a substitute, like, I don’t know – what would be true without being dorky and still keep it not overtly religious? – like My Sister in Humanity or something less clunky that someone more creative than I can think of…

  • ModerateMom17

    The idea of giving someone a name on the one hand seems like it forces you to acknowledge their humanity. Otoh as it relates to porn, so many of those women are given false names by men, as a tool of control and dehumanization, that I’m not quite sure how I feel about it.

  • Darren Cools

    It’s important to remember that the women in question have already
    publicized their names, faces and much more (or someone else has,
    despite them) across the internet. The list on Hername.org is an
    acknowledgement of an individual, a person, using their public identity;
    I don’t think any claim or control over them is implied. We introduce
    ourselves to one another in daily life by name because it is an honor to
    be known by it, not something to guard or fear.

    Patrick is right, the list is more than an admission on the part of the men—it is a
    prayer intention list. And perhaps a powerful tool for arresting
    temptation in the future.

    As for giving a name to someone who is only known by a face, isn’t that—for the sake of practicality—much like giving a ‘handle’ or nickname to someone, used to help solidify the intent of the one attempting to make amends? After all, it is doubtful even one of the names on the list is that girl’s actual birth name.

    To address the question of internet hits, if the first name rule is adhered to, it will pretty hard to find an actress with only a first name. If someone wants to search that way, all that is required is to enter any woman’s first name into google and hit enter.

    Once again, remember: the men adding names to this list are not saying ‘these are the women who made me sin’; rather, they are saying: ‘these are the women I have sinned against’. The women lost anonymity long before being added to a list on a site dedicated to reparation. The site is not intended to be the confessional—it’s the penance.

    Thanks for posting this, Simcha!

    • Julie

      I know the intention may be pure, but I still think it’s a bad idea to start naming names publicly. Acknowledge them in private and pray for them.

      • Darren Cools

        And yet secrecy is often where this very problem is bred.

        • Damien Fisher

          Darren, it think it’s a really good step in the right direction.

          • Darren Cools

            Thanks Damien. I am truly open to discussion and critique. I’m glad Simcha posted it here. I spent a lot of time in prayer and discussing with others, both Christian and not, before building the site.

          • Damien Fisher

            I’m on my name phone right now, so I’m writing short. I am nervous about the power of names.

        • $106300126

          So why do the men get to maintain secrecy? And who are you to decide when someone else should give up their secrecy? You do realize you are actually starting to sound like a rapist now, right…?

        • Julie

          The internet is often where the problem is bred. Keeping things private is not the same as keeping things secret. If you really wanted to make public amends, you’d post your own name. But that could be very hurtful too. I am not trying to accuse you of any kind of bad intentions, and I’m glad you’re thinking of the exploited women. I just don’t think this is the best idea.

      • ModerateMom17

        I have to agree with Julie.

    • ModerateMom17

      Darren, I hope this doesn’t seem incredibly deflating, because it’s obvious to me that you have a big heart and good intentions. In theory, I really like the idea of having to put a name to an anonymous face to acknowledge a person’s humanity. I’m not so sure that’s what actually comes across on the site though, especially looking at it from a woman’s perspective. I’m clicking over there half cringing, hoping I don’t see my name or my daughters’ names there, because frankly that would be a bit creepy. I know the intent is for it to be about the men admitting their sin, but what I see is HER, and a female face, and a list of women’s names. It’s not feeling like the focus is in the right place. My two cents.

      • Darren Cools

        I appreciate your thoughts, and I respect your point of view—it’s a discomforting subject—however, the way I look at it is this: If I was asked to pray for a man named Darren who had done something heinous, (let’s say, molested someone), should I feel fear and disgust that he shared my name, or should I choose pity and beg God to bring a fallen brother back to the fold?

        As Anna has said here earlier: we are only as sick as our secrets—and I would venture further that we only love as we put aside fear. Evil cannot abide in the light.

        While on earth, Christ ate dinner with the women listed on Hername.org, and I’m sure he called them by name, even if that name happened to be Mary.

        • ModerateMom17

          Ok. Well I’m a bit confused then. You’re talking about praying for the people who have committed a heinous act, but the list of women’s names is of the victims of these acts.? I have no qualms about praying for anyone, ftr. Like I said, confused.

          • ModerateMom17

            I think I found the confusion.

            I’m not creeped out by the fact that I or my daughters could share a name with a woman appearing in porn. I’m creeped out at the idea of seeing one of our names listed as victims. Perhaps the fact that I’m a victim of rape colors my view.

          • Darren Cools

            As horrifying and painful as that would be, could it not present an opportunity to bring the tragedy to light, and therefore save a live, save a soul? Shame and anonymity are the enemy here.

          • Nan

            But the men remain anonymous. That’s shameful.

          • $106300126

            Oh, sure – the men who victimize these girls are allowed to remain anonymous, but they can unilaterally, without her permission, publically “out” an already-victimized girl. All for HER own good, naturally….

            Yeah, this site is sick, alright. I’m running it by a lawyer and a sex crimes unit. You are way off base, dude. Way off base.

          • Darren Cools

            Perhaps I can help dispel some of your confusion—

            When you said it would be creepy to see your own or a daughter’s name on the site, is that because you would feel preyed upon like the women on the list, or because those women are committing heinous acts, and the association in name is creepy? And the real question: does this matter when we choose to love and pray for another?

            Coerced or not, both the viewers and the viewed are sinning, and at the same time are both victims of evil. The men make an act of contrition and pray by adding a name. The women receive those prayers. The men are doing penance, the women (and men) are receiving grace through this prayer, whether they know it or not. This is the fundamental basis of the site.

            Why list her name? St. John Paul II said, “Name a person for whom you feel lust.” And further: “Pray for that person by name.”

            Why make it public? To encourage humility, transparency, honesty. To raise awareness of the gravity and reach of the problem. To say, as we have said of the kidnapped Nigerian girls (who are arguably undergoing the same fate as most girls in porn): ‘I know your name. You are not forgotten or hated. I’m truly sorry if I contributed to your harm. May God gather you in His arms.’

          • Anna Cools

            “Coerced or not, both the viewers and the viewed are sinning, and at the same time are both victims of evil”
            I’ll have to correct you, my dear, by saying that if one is coerced then there is no sin.

          • Darren Cools

            Perhaps I mean ‘committing evil’, not ‘sinning’.

            Thanks 🙂

          • Eileen

            I think you mean “is being used as an instrument of evil” instead of “committing evil.” Committing implies willful consent.

          • $106300126

            Where’s the humility and transparency if the men don’t post their names? What’s even remotely honest about that? And, no, many women (girls, minors) are not committing evil in these situations. They’re victims of disgusting men, probably have been all their lives, some even victims of their fathers.

            Sorry, but the more I read your rationale, the sicker this site sounds.

        • Philothea

          But these are fake names, no? I get that you’re trying to personalize the women by having the men who lust give them names, but…. that is still something that encourages the imagination of the men, and while this may help some, it would seem more powerful to me to tell a story rather than pin a label, if that makes sense. Naming the woman seems to be mostly about the men healing wounds of pornography (which needs to be done and is very destructive), but never addresses the plight of these women. They did not give up their privacy, it was TAKEN. While helping the addicted is very important, I think just naming the women with whatever name one conjures up becomes objectifying in that they become nothing more than a means to an end, no matter how worthy the cause. Does that make sense?

          • Darren Cools

            I understand your point, however, if you diminish the demand, you diminish the supply—if fewer men use it, there will necessarily be less of it, and fewer women will be hurt. Starting at the source is the surest way to diminish future evil.

            The means is only prayer and reparation through humanization, the end is men who don’t look and porn and women who are not subjected to it’s horrors.

        • $106300126

          The problem with this “we’re only as sick as our secrets” rationale is that the guy is still keeping HIS name secret. Men are outing women while they remain anonymous. It’s creepy at best and rape-y at worst. If men want to repent and want to pray for victims of the sex industry, fine, but pasting names of women on the internet while they remain anonymous is cowardly and demeaning to the women.

        • Darren. If the intention is for the men (or offenders) to
          acknowledge responsibility and to amend their ways then PLEASE leave the
          women (or victims) out of this….they’ve already been hurt whether
          they know it or not. If there is even a smidgen of a chance that they
          could be further exploited then leave them out and make this about the
          men (offenders).

    • Guest

      Philothea Anna Cools • 2 minutes ago
      OThe heart, the intention behind this is good, and I think it is great that you guys are doing SOMETHING. I think perhaps we could all acknowledge that more instead of just focusing on the misgivings (sorry!).

      That being said, I think it far more important to actually tell the story of so many of these girls by very plainly showing the connection between kidnapping, human sex trafficking, forced prostitution, forced pornography and the all too common shared story of how our daughters, etc end up victims.

      For instance, a caption under a picture that says, “I was kidnapped by a spotter, repeatedly raped, my life was threatened, and I was forced to do this.” Something like that is far more thought-provoking and far less able to be trolled.

      Some good links/sites: http://sharedhope.org/ (main site)
      http://sharedhope.org/learn/wh
      ALSO ON FACEBOOK

      http://www.polarisproject.org/

      Survivors’ stories (also found on the other sites): http://m.state.gov/md210546.ht

      Vatican’s Statement on Human Trafficking: http://www.vatican.va/roman_cu

      Then maybe some nifty Catholic quotes on lust/etc?

    • Philothea

      he heart, the intention behind this is good, and I think it is great that you guys are doing SOMETHING. I think perhaps we could all acknowledge that more instead of just focusing on the misgivings (sorry!).

      That being said, I think it far more important to actually tell the story of so many of these girls by very plainly showing the connection between kidnapping, human sex trafficking, forced prostitution, forced pornography and the all too common shared story of how our daughters, etc end up victims.

      For instance, a caption under a picture that says, “I was kidnapped by a spotter, repeatedly raped, my life was threatened, and I was forced to do this.” Something like that is far more thought-provoking and far less able to be trolled.

      Some good links/sites: http://sharedhope.org/ (main site)
      http://sharedhope.org/learn/wh
      ALSO ON FACEBOOK

      http://www.polarisproject.org/

      Survivors’ stories (also found on the other sites): http://m.state.gov/md210546.ht

      Vatican’s Statement on Human Trafficking: http://www.vatican.va/roman_cu

      Then maybe some nifty Catholic quotes on lust/etc?

  • Rose

    Don’t like. Many of the names are obviously phony porn names, which adds to the sad and creepy factor. And the whole project feels like the well-meaning but TMI recovering alcoholic involving everyone in their amends thing, whether you like it or not. Uck.

    • Anna Cools

      Addiction is really ugly, and honesty is one of the best ways to start on the road to recovery. A great saying that needs to be adopted by every household in America is “you’re only as messed up as your secrets”. And how many households have porn addictions in them? And how much shame is around those addictions? As long as we think of porn problems as icky TMI then no one is going to talk about them, and the demand that these girls are fed into will only grow.

      • Rose

        I agree that honesty is good thing for addictions, but imposing your honesty on others through a website seems a little tone deaf to me.

        Naming the girls (especially with monikers like “Pandora!” and “Puma!”) especially doesn’t sit well with me. It reminds me of the FBI agent who used to hang around strip clubs trying to “convert” the strippers after he ogled them. It’s exhibitionism dressed up in piety. And, frankly, it’s a little condescending. Also: Are the men using this website going to name the wives and girlfriends they’ve hurt as well? The focus just on the porn stars is weird to me. Maybe I just don’t get it.

        • Anna Cools

          I see what you’re saying. I wonder if it would be better to give them a made up name? I posted a quote above: “People in pornographic pictures have a name and a story. Put
          them back together again with a madeup name and an ordinary
          story. Pray for them by name to be set free from the slavery of
          being sex toys to others.”
          As far as imposing honesty on others… I guess I feel like no one would be forcing anyone to go to the site. Maybe it would help those who need honesty in their lives to see that they are not alone?

          • Rose

            Anna, I’m sympathetic to the intent, but here’s the problem: the men on the site are STILL USING these women to make themselves feel better. Only now they’re doing it under the pretense of “respecting” them. It’s still all about the guy and overcoming his addiction.
            If this is really about honesty/”naming and claiming” why not just name yourself and leave these poor women out if it? Having had my share of unwanted male attention, the idea of some guy putting my name on a website to show his amends to me makes my skin crawl. Name the woman in your prayers or to your confessor.

          • CS

            I would like to second this. Exactly this. I know the discussion has mostly already happened. I am sorry your site got slammed by a rage-mob. But it does feel like using the women to put their names out there, and anonymously to boot.The idea of seeing my name on there feels disgusting.

        • $106300126

          Exactly. I think this site just victimizes women all over again. Publishing their names in this context is vile. What if they’ve finally broken free of this terrible life only to find their names listed publically on this site? And if the men are supposedly repenting via this public naming, where are their names? There’s something creepy and twisted about this whole idea, frankly. It’s wrong. Plus, what kind of loser man publically names a perfectly innocent girl he’s lusted after alongside pornstars? That’s gonna look real good when future employers do a background search. That, in fact, would be cause for legal action. Honestly, the whole site sounds potentially defamatory.

          • Darren Cools

            I’m sorry the site is causing such concern. These women’s full names are already listed on porn sites, easily found, and they are almost certainly acting under assumed names—if they leave the industry, they leave that name as well.

            Considering only a first name is listed, there is no danger of background searches or harm coming to them, as there is no way to conclusively connect a name with a person.

            People submit mass and prayer intentions to their priest, who then publicly names and prays for the intention during the Mass. Those who submit these prayers are not asked to identify themselves.

            The site only calls for humility and encourages men to stand together in love and with intention.

          • $106300126

            How does naming some poor victimized girl while you, the creep who wanked off to her picture, cowers behind a computer screen call for humility?

            This encourages nothing but a cheap out for creepy men. Oh, hey, I slapped a name on a site, anonymously of course, so now I’m good….right.

            I’m alerting every feminist site and running this by sex crimes law enforcement and counselors. You’re just using women for your own ends. Sick.you need to be shut down.

          • donttouchme

            Aha!! And this is why the site got slammed. I figured someone had probably linked it for destruction. Nobody attacks en masse or with more vitriol than the feminist mob.

          • James H, London

            “…using women for your own ends.”

            What ends are those, do you think?

            Do you think men get a vicious thrill from posting someone’s name for them to be prayed for?

            Do you think they’re doing this to be vindictive? Honestly?

            Or do you think the owners of those girls have a right not to have their operations questioned?

            I went to see the site before it was closed down, and maybe it was still early days, but I didn’t see any pictures of the girls at all – just a list of names.

            And I think it’s a bit rich to point the finger at people posting names anonymously, Mz Anonymous.

          • $106300126

            You still don’t see these women as human beings with a right to privacy and a right to decide whether or not they want to be named, even in part, on a public site and as porn stars and/or victim’s of some perv’s lust.

            This has NOTHING to do with the priest naming sick members of the community, or the recently deceased members at Mass. It’s not even remotely similar.

            Here’s a clue: the women here all think this idea is appallingly offensive to women. It’s gross and demeaning, and only a sleazy, yellow-bellied coward would anonymously post names of sex crimes victims on a website for his own personal gain.

          • wineinthewater

            I think this is the problem I have. These women’s bodies are their own. It is *her* face on your site, her image, her body. One of the most fundamental problems with porn is that it reduces a person to an object, a means to an ends. Your site does the same thing. Through posting her image to be “named” it turns her into an object, a means to an end .. even if a far more noble end. But the site is still using her, and presumably without her consent.

            And it does not matter if it is not her real name. It is her real face. What of the woman who has finally gotten out, and it trying to build a new life? But then her neighbor finds this site, or an employer, or a parent at her child’s school. Then her past – whether her victim-hood or her sin – is exposed, she is forced to suffer shame anew. Remember, images on the web can be years old. Just because someone is currently still making money off a woman’s images does not mean she is still in the life.

            I’m sorry for the circumstances that have forced you to deactivate the site, but I think it’s for the best. I applaud you for trying to do SOMETHING. I hope you can find another avenue.

  • Anna Cools

    When Darren and I were putting together this idea, something that really inspired us was from Dr. Monica Breaux and her STOP letter guidelines for overcoming addiction and/or use of porn.
    “Name a person for whom you feel lust. Pope John Paul II explained that the problem with pornography is NOT
    that it reveals too much of a person, but that it does not reveal enough of them. People in pornographic pictures have a name and a story. Put them back together again with a madeup name and an ordinary story. Pray for them by name to be setfree from the slavery of being sex toys to others. Pope Benedict XVI wrote in God is Love that we can “give them the look of love that they crave.” Our love and prayers can bring change and healing into their lives. Set the slaves free. “But I say to you, everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Matthew 5:28″”http://www.drmonicabreaux.com/uploads/3/0/6/1/3061621/prn-_use_as_needed_free.pdf

  • Cathy

    Somehow I think the men listing their own names might be more powerful. My husband also commented that perhaps listing the name of a person you hurt (other than the woman you “lusted after” ) might be more significant.

    • Darren Cools

      The list is not limited to women in porn, but any woman who has been a victim of lust.

    • Cathy I agree. If the intention is for the men (or offenders) to acknowledge responsibility and to amend their ways then PLEASE leave the women (or victims) out of this….they’ve already been hurt whether they know it or not. If there is even a smidgen of a chance that they could be further exploited then leave them out and make this about the men (offenders).

  • Philothea

    A lot of these girls/women/boys are victims of human sex trafficking. I think it would be awesome to highlight that very solid connection that these are peoples’ daughters who have most likely been kidnapped and are being forced to do this. Then link to sites like Shared Hope International, etc etc. Perhaps instead of names? The intention is honorable, but for some reason that I can’t explain, it makes me uneasy. GOOD NEWS: Major legislative bills were passed today to fight human trafficking and rescue/protect victims of sex trafficking. HOORAY!

  • Tiffany

    “Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.” Step 9, Alcoholics (and every other affliction) Anonymous
    too dicey/pointless. But a lovely ideal. There’s the principle of a ‘living amends’, and it can take on many forms. None of them occur online. Examples run from intentionally returning and lining up shopping carts in parking lots to paying a stranger’s rent or other bills. Lightening the burdens of others, in recompense for the times we added to their burdens and “got away with it.”
    There are just some sins that we don’t get cathartic, public release from. We get to offer it up with no recognition. This really is done in a creative and pure spirit, though, it seems.

  • donttouchme

    Lame. It’s kind of a “take back the night!!!” gimmicky type thing. What if the girl’s name is Juggzee McBoob? She should maybe put down the names of the men she exploited and victimized. And that means you too, women who wear anything but denim skirts. You’re victimizing countless boys and men. Go put their names on a list as penance.

  • simchafisher

    Good morning, everyone. I deleted a bunch of comments that crossed the line from criticizing an idea to criticizing (or mocking, or libeling) a person.

    It is very obvious to me that this idea was born of a sincere desire to make reparations for the sin of denying the personhood of another human being; and I can only imagine how genuinely humbling and penitential it must feel for a guy to write someone’s name on a public list like this.

    The concept is good; the execution maybe needs work. I agree with Rose who says that this list is, in a way, still using the girls and women. It reminds me of that scene in Bonfire of the Vanities, where the adulterous Sherman begs his wife to say that she forgives him, and she says wearily, “All right, I forgive you. What difference does it make?” She understands that, while he’s as sorry as he’s capable of being, he’s still thinking primarily of himself, and the pain *he’s* feeling as he grapples with the realization that he’s hurt her.

    I also agree with the commenter (sorry, I forget which) who says that you just have to deal with some sins privately. Think of the guy who had a secret affair forty years ago, and now he’s on his deathbed, and has a burning desire to confess to his wife. Should he do it? No, of course not. He has no right to use other people as a means of relieving his conscience. The same is, perhaps, true here: if he has denied the personhood of girls and women, he is not entitled to any kind of catharsis.

    There is not any real danger of exposing or embarrassing the girls and women involved. It’s just first names, and they are either common or fake, so that’s not really the issue. The issue is that the focus is still on the men and their struggle. The issue is that they are still using these people for a purpose, rather than just letting them be.

    I understand that the primary goal of this project is not to make men feel better about having sinned. The primary goal is to acknowledge the humanity of people they have objectified.

    And I really do understand that making a public, secular site has the advantage of encouraging men to definitively acknowledge what they have done, and it gives them the encouragement of realizing that there are other men struggling — which, in turn, reduces the chance that more women with be exploited in the future. It’s hard to think of some model that would have the same power, but which would avoid this exploitative tone which so many of the women here are sensing. I think this same goal of acknowledging personhood could be achieved, for instance, by pledging to pray by name for one year for the women you have harmed; or, for secular people, pledging to contribute to women’s shelters, blogging about porn, or something like that.

    Again, I really, really hate to discourage a project with such good intentions. Too often, it’s left to the outraged mommies to speak out against porn, so it’s a very good thing that men are starting to be more public and vocal about it. But I think it’s important to listen to women’s take on how it is coming across.

    • donttouchme

      I think the issue is that feminists are still scrambling to have their cake and eat it too, to keep chivalry just alive enough to guilt trip men while also being “strong, independent women” who don’t need no man! That’s the reason for the jacked up victim language and heavy focus on abducted children (and someone almost always mentions some serial killer) when pointing out the sin of lust. I would say that’s probably the reason for the strong negative reaction on the site. You could use similar jacked up language to discuss any sin, but it only happens around lust. It is a problem, obviously, same as it ever was, but the hyper focus and near hysteria, I think, has more to do with a woman feeling creepy because some guy looked at her a few seconds too long, than it does with sex slavery. “Sex slavery” is the objective correlative they want to use for how they feel in that moment even though the two things are really, really far apart on the lust spectrum. Also, “sex slavery” protects them from social disapprobation in a sneaky way, even if they’re modeling for a calendar or dressing immodestly.

      • donttouchme

        Of course, that’s not to say that abductions and slavery and addiction aren’t serious issues in themselves, but the whole gamut seems to be bathed in them now

      • Philothea

        I am NOT a “feminist” so please do not use such broad strokes to discount the reality of human trafficking. I don’t recall anyone saying they don’t need a man. I can’t speak for others, but I happen to love my husband, and never denigrate him. We were brought together by God, and I consider my husband an immense gift of Grace, encouragement, and unconditional love in my life.

        Could you please try to address actual topics/persons instead of just stereotypes you arbitrarily come up with?

        The issue being addressed in the sex trafficking comments was specifically pornography/prostitution – not the *general* sin of lust. If you check out the links, you will see that it isn’t some lame feminist distraction to excuse immodesty, but REALITY. One of the links is through the Vatican. Last I recall, they’re a bunch of men 🙂

        To be honest, I question whether you read the comments, because (unless I missed something overnight/this morning) nobody mentioned sex slavery as a “feeling” or an excuse to dress immodestly and put the blame on men. I thought this discussion was about images and internet porn (as sought out in fits of lust), not about women walking down the street dressed immodestly.

        • donttouchme

          The website creator said the names could be any woman who was a victim of lust, not just women in porn, so I was pointing out that many of those women are also horribly “victimizing” boys and men if we want to amp up the victim language. I guess my larger idea is that guilt tripping boys and men doesn’t get results and also makes them feel like crap and hate themselves. Which is ultimately counterproductive for everyone, because then they won’t care about anything. I don’t know what the answer is. My idea is to restore old-fashioned patriarchal hierachy in the family so calm order can trickle out into society, but that’s obviously unlikely to happen.

          Re your last paragraph, that’s just speculation based on my experience with feminists and feminist-influenced people and the sex slavery meme.

          • Sheila C.

            So, it’s a terrible, terrible thing to make men feel bad for lusting after, disrespecting, and objectifying women, just because it’s not as bad as sex slavery? Didn’t Jesus say that if you lusted after a woman, you’d committed adultery with her in your heart? He didn’t say “if you lust after a woman, you’re the real victim, you poor thing.”

            Women — well, good Catholic women — spend plenty of time worrying about modesty and trying to own their own part of the struggle for purity. But it’s not a bad thing for men to do it too.

          • donttouchme

            I agree with you. From what I’ve read most online pornography is accessed by boys aged 12-17. Obviously, a 14-year-old who one day typed “boobs” into google is personally responsible for global sex slavery. The problem is how do we make him understand that, deep in his soul?

          • Sheila C.

            Pretty simple. “Son, you know having sex when you’re not married is wrong. Looking at porn is wrong too. Jesus said it was no different because you are lusting after someone instead of loving them within marriage.”

            Boy, that was easy. I have two sons. My husband and I will explain things to them when they reach an appropriate age, and offer rides to confession whenever they want them. I expect they’ll fall, but I also expect them to pick themselves up and try again, as decent men do, instead of blaming someone else or whining about who else did worse. I am sure their fragile self-esteem can endure the suggestion that some of the things they would like to do are bad, especially when they know that God can forgive them even if they sometimes do those bad things.

            I’ll open myself up here and point out that women can commit sins of lust too. And we, too, have the responsibility to *stop it* and to *repent every time we fall.* This isn’t a gender issue; this is one of the commandments that God has given us.

  • Darren Cools

    Due to a continual stream of obscenities and personal attacks now appearing on Hername.org, I have chosen to suspend the site.

    • simchafisher

      I’m sorry, Darren. That’s not fair.

    • Julie

      I’m sorry too. I didn’t see this when I replied to you a few seconds ago. Simcha’s right. That isn’t fair.

    • Philothea

      That sucks 🙁 I was worried that the site would be troll bait, but I do hope that you are able to figure out a way to make it work a different way, because the intent and goal of fighting porn addiction is a worthy one.

  • anna lisa

    Thank goodness there are people out there who are trying to do something for these women. How about having the habit of mentally placing the “names” of those women on the altar at mass…(and the names of people in troubled marriages because of the affliction…)

  • Debbie M.

    I wonder how the site would be different if men named their own names instead?

    • Debbie M.

      I had a cooler more well thought-out comment but my computer deleted it 🙁

  • Darren Cools

    Dear friends,

    I have pondered all that has been said here as well
    as the circumstances that forced me to suspend the website, and I
    believe there may yet be a solution.

    First of all, I still
    wholeheartedly believe in the concept of remembering and praying for
    people—by name—that you have hurt (Hername is focused on a very
    particular kind of hurt, and branching out to other areas is not the
    purpose of the project). This concept comes from the Theology of the
    Body of St. John Paul II, and the purpose is humanization of those who
    have been dehumanized.

    I also understand that the presentation of
    this concept on Hername did not communicate the intent properly, and
    was upsetting to some. I apologize for this; I did not foresee it coming
    across in the way it did.

    How can the concept be kept intact
    (which is why the project exists at all), without exposing, shaming, using,
    offending or hurting anyone?

    I propose that in place of the list
    of names, there is a counter—simply a number—and the button is not a
    form, but a ticker. The copy could clarify that by clicking the button,
    the user is indicating that he/she is remembering and praying for a
    woman by name, and each click increases the number by one. The name
    being remembered is never entered or listed anywhere, publicly or
    otherwise. There is still gravity in seeing this number grow, and it
    could still be encouraging to those looking for tools to fight sin.

    Would
    people click the button purely for mischief? Of course. But for every
    false click, there is no doubt of an unremembered girl somewhere who
    needs compassion and grace, so the concept is not broken.

    What do
    we lose by doing this? The courage required to say a name out loud. A
    specific prayer list of women who need those prayers that others could
    add their daily devotions.

    What
    do we gain? The sinner and the sinned against are on perfectly equal
    footing: 100% anonymous. There is no possible usage of any persons or
    information that can happen since the names remain only in the heart.
    The is no risk of subjecting the site’s audience to obscenity. Best of all, the intent of the site remains intact: a specific
    and concrete act of sorrow and reparation beyond the privacy of the pew.
    But no one can now be hurt by this call for action.

    Many things have
    been said publicly over the last couple of days about myself and my
    wife. I will say this in response: I have presented
    myself transparently, under my own name, and my only hope is that light
    can be brought into an area of darkness. I believe in the importance of
    reaching out to good men who are fighting a difficult battle in
    shame and loneliness, and my first attempt had flaws, which I am seeking to rectify. If even one man gives up porn or even one women
    finds healing through prayers she is not even aware of receiving, I would consider
    the project a victory.

    I welcome your misgivings and suggestions, but I also ask you to trust in the honest intent of men to fight sin and seek grace and forgiveness.

    -Darren