Kickstarter Apologizes for Controversial Seduction Guide

Crowdfunding site responds to criticism over campaign for book that seemed to advocate sexual assault

Kickstarter issued a sincere apology Friday for its role in the controversy surrounding author Ken Hoinsky's "Above the Game" seduction guide, successfully funded through the site earlier this week.

The crowdfunding site said it was wrong for not pulling the campaign for the book, despite complaints about its content as the campaign neared its conclusion on Wednesday.

"The posts offended a lot of people – us included – and many asked us to cancel the creator’s project," Kickstarter said in its apology blog post on Friday. The site explained that it didn't immediately pull the $2,000 campaign because it was almost over, and because it has a deep bias for creators.

"Our processes, and everyday thinking, bias heavily toward creators," the post stated. "We feel a duty to our community – and our creators especially – to approach these investigations methodically as there is no margin for error in canceling a project. This thinking made us miss the forest for the trees."

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Kickstarter went on to say that the factors "don’t excuse our decision but we hope they add clarity to how we arrived at it."

The campaign has since been removed from Kickstarter, which said it would donate $25,000 to RAINN, the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network. Going forward, Kickstarter will not allow "seduction guides" on its crowdfunding platform.

"This material encourages misogynistic behavior and is inconsistent with our mission of funding creative works," the company said. "These things do not belong on Kickstarter."

The controversy started when comedian Casey Malone posted excerpts of Hoinsky's guide that previously appeared on reddit

The excerpts said things like, "Don’t ask for permission. Be dominant. Force her to rebuff your advances." Its tone was very different in tone from what appeared on the Kickstarter campaign page, which Malone described as "fairly innocent but a little eye-roll inducing,"

Hoinsky said he was not promoting sexual assault and that the book would include a chapter on sexual assault and rape — telling men not to do it. 

This is not the first time a Kickstarter project has drawn ire. Most recently, it was because wealthy celebrities like Zach Braff were using it to get donations for projects from their considerably poorer fans. Before that, there were the complaints that project backers either never received the rewards they were promised or received them very late.

"Kickstarter is one of the friendliest, most supportive places on the web and we’re committed to keeping it that way," the company said. "We’re sorry for getting this so wrong."