“Death threats drive Anita Sarkeesian from her home”

Anita Sarkeesian, whose excellent Tropes vs Women in Video Games series is an important contribution to the discussion of gender and games, has been driven from her home by enraged male gamers whose stalking, and explicit, credible threats of sexual violence against her and her family convinced her to go into hiding.

In so doing, these men have ably demonstrated the point Sarkeesian sought to make all along: that gaming is riddled with misogynistic violence, and that this violence reflects a real-world misogyny rampant within the gaming world.

Boing Boing (found via Next Years Girl)

From Sarkeesian’s twitter feed, she seems to be basically ok (she’s still tweeting). You can see a selection of the violent threats against her on the Feminist Frequency tumblr here, and below are some of the tweets about her experience:

Sarkeesian tweet 01

Sarkeesian tweets 02

This is the latest Tropes vs Women in Video Games video:

Brianna Wu has written about her own and other women’s experiences in the games industry:

“Women are the [n******] of gender,” the email said. “If you killed yourself, I wouldn’t even fuck the corpse.”

I blinked at my phone, fighting simultaneous urges to hurl my phone across the room in anger and cry. Later that day, someone texted me my address — telling me they’d “See me when I least expected it.”

I haven’t been out to my car at night by myself since January 2nd.

My name is Brianna Wu. I lead a development studio that makes games. Sometimes, I write about issues in the games industry that relate to the equality of women. My reward is that I regularly have men threatening to rape and commit acts of violence against me.

If you are a woman working in the games industry, especially in a public way, you’re going to experience harassment. I imagine telling my 12-year-old self that fulfilling my dream of making games would lead to constant threats. Would she still do it? Would any woman?

The problem with sharing these stories in broad terms is that people think men and women receive the same harassment online. They do not. I’m not writing this piece to evoke your sympathy. I’m writing to share with you what prominent, successful women in the industry experience, in their own words.

I’ve personally never heard of a man in the games industry getting rape threats for having an opinion.

A male friend of mine that develops AAA games told me, “When a woman criticizes me, it goes to a different part of my brain than when a man on my team does. I get defensive really quickly. I’m trying to get better about it.” I don’t think his is a unique experience.

We live in a society that’s sexist in ways it doesn’t understand. One of the consequences is that men are extremely sensitive to being criticized by women. I think it threatens them in a very primal way, and male privilege makes them feel free to lash out.

This is why women are socialized to carefully dance around these issues, disagreeing with men in an extremely gentle manner. Not because women are nicer creatures than men. But because our very survival can depend on it.

Women in the industry are told by men what is valid for us to feel. The conversations tend not to recognize the reality of the situation, and the very real threats that can occur at gaming events or in our day-to-day lives. We’re told it doesn’t matter, to grow a thicker skin, and that men go through the same thing.

I have yet to talk to a man who has had to call a police officer due to a stalker, only to be told nothing can be done until they are physically assaulted. It’s hard to explain what it’s like to be at a gaming event, cornered by someone who claims to be a fan, and to be physically kept from leaving by someone holding you in place or putting their body between you and the exit.

The comments on stories about lived experiences of women tend to ignore these stories, or claim the issue is as simple as nasty messages on videos or news stories. The words and experiences of women are shouted down, or ignored.

I didn’t understand this until I read Leigh Alexander’s excellent piece, “But what can be done: Dos and Don’ts To Combat Online Sexism.” One quote was so great, I made an inspirational poster out of it.

leigh

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5 responses

  1. Hi. My name is Zoe, and I make weird video games with some degree of success (and make them playable for free, if you’re so inclined). My life is generally pretty uncomplicated, I guess, aside from the fact that a month ago the Internet decided to make me the center of a supposed global conspiracy. I made the mistake of dating a guy who would later go on to write a several-act manifesto about my alleged sex life and post it to every forum he could create a handle for. Normally, this would blow over with little more than a “whoa, check out THAT guy,” but since I work in an industry that has very strong feelings about women, it quickly mutated from a jilted ex’s revenge-porn to one of the most intense scandals in recent gaming history.

    Long story short, the Internet spent the last month spreading my personal information around, sending me threats, hacking anyone suspected of being friends with me, calling my dad and telling him I’m a whore, sending nude photos of me to colleagues, and basically giving me the “burn the witch” treatment. During all of this, I found that …

    […]

    This sort of thing is hardly new — forums like 4chan organize campaigns every month or so to try to stick it to feminists or just women in general. Just a few months ago, they organized a fake campaign to end Father’s Day and harass black feminists. In January, a hoax was created to make women feel crappy about their bodies, and in February they went on the warpath against feminists by creating a hoax about tampons. Or, the target may be a specific woman — like the time they found a feminist on YouTube criticizing video games and unleashed a tsunami of death threats.

    Each time they’ll do it under the guise of fighting for some kind of justice (or rather, correcting the injustice feminists have perpetrated against males and/or video games). For instance, they figure the aforementioned game critic deserved the death threats because she incorrectly described a level from one of the Hitman games. Of course.

    […]

    Any tactic was justified, in their minds — after all, if somebody doesn’t take down these female indie developers who make games about depression and give them away for free, who knows what will happen? There could be other women out there making games and having sex, right now, dammit!

    And they are making progress — multiple talented women in the industry have decided it’s just not worth it, knowing that they’re one pissed-off ex away from being in my situation. Another friend who watched all of this unfold declared he was “fucking out of this” and deleted all of his game projects. And that’s not even getting into whatever young girls are out there watching — if they were hoping to break into this overwhelmingly male industry, the message is loud and clear: “This is what happens to women who cross us. And also, literally anything counts as ‘crossing us.'”

    Zoe Quinn “5 Things I Learned as the Internet’s Most Hated Person”

    http://www.cracked.com/blog/5-things-i-learned-as-internets-most-hated-person/

  2. also:

    I had to do this once with Privateer II: The Darkening. It gained a bit when he said “I bet you didn’t play it through, I bet somebody just told you how…” and I was able to smile gently and say “God, possibly, since I wrote the game.” And plainly the Deity was with me that day, as I happened to be carrying docs from my UK agent (who’d done the deal) that showed not only that I was the writer, but the five-figure sum I had been paid. …It was a happy day for me. Not so much for him. I’d never had a referent for the word “slink” for a full grown male before. As in “slink away in utter dejection.” I smiled for at least three days without stopping. And am smiling now… I had completely forgotten about this.

    Found at the Bewilderness:

    http://tehbewilderness.tumblr.com/post/97156291419/zfeeld-thegits-fish-boned-shickalenia

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