This Week In Harassment

The Tropes vs Women in Video Games logo along with a bunch of female game characters.

Friend of the blog Anita Sarkeesian of the awesome Feminist Frequency is the latest target of a harassment campaign by misogynist gamers. She has written about the wave of harassment she has received via KickStarter, YouTube, and the vandalizing of her Wikipedia page. The methods are disturbing, but familiar. This is all in response to her KickStarter project Tropes vs. Women in Video Games, a series of videos for her Tropes vs. Women series that will focus on games. As of this writing, the project has over 2,000 backers and raised nearly $50,000, well over the original target of $6,000.

It’s nice that the number of backers doubled once news of the harassment campaign started getting around. But the video game community needs to do more. It’s well past time for the video game community to own up to and condemn the fact that there is a subset of us dedicated to organized mob harassment of people who criticize games in any way, but particularly when it comes to social issues like misogyny, racism, and homophobia. It’s time to stop rolling our eyes about how awful gamers and nerds are. We are gamers and nerds, and this is our community. If you know someone who is involved in this sort of thing, tell them that it’s not cool. Condemn this sort of behavior on forums, on Twitter, wherever you have a voice. If you don’t feel safe doing those things, then don’t (safety is most important), but if you can, speak up. This is a perfect way for allies who want to do more to do so. Let harassers know they are the ones who aren’t welcome in video games, not the people who make thoughtful criticism out of love for the medium. Games don’t belong to them, and the community has no need for people who harass and try to silence criticism.

And by the way, there’s still time to back the project.

20 thoughts on “This Week In Harassment”

  1. “It’s nice that the number of backers doubled once news of the harassment campaign started getting around.”

    Wow, that *is* nice. I was aware that there was harassment going on, but I didn’t know that the news led to more backers. It’s great that people are getting behind her project. Still, horrible that these people feel the need to behave like this in the first place.

  2. I looked at the talk section for Sarkeesian’s Wikipedia page. The comments about her hating men are actually kind of hilarious. The harassment obviously isn’t. I’ll definitely talk about this issue and why it’s not okay tomorrow.

  3. The history of the Wikipedia page is really the worst. People are doing this … why? Because she wanted to explore the representation of women in video games? It just numbs my mind.

  4. A huge amount of pure hate against women mixed with antisemitism. I have to puke.

    I doubled my pledge, her videos are very insightful and i am curious of her deconstruction of female video game characters.

  5. Did people really flagged it for terrorism? Seriously?

    At least this means that privileged shitheads are getting terrified, right?

  6. What really strikes me the most is the disproportional response. I mean, this is hardly the SCUM Manifesto on her part. It’s a discussion of fictional characters. She’s making YouTube videos about popular media and analyzing them from a very common and (at least academically) well-respected philosophical position. This is pretty tame, if fascinating, stuff.

    And yet the response is not a counterpoint to her position: it’s misogynist slurs, attacks against her character, and death threats.

    What the what? Analyzing media you like in a way you disagree with = death threats? What the hell is wrong with these people? Why have video game characters got them so riled up? I’ve seen similar analysis from male feminists receive a much more measured response – the worst personal attack was accusations of white knighting. What gives?

    1. I suppose one could suggest that in the case of a male critic the haters aren’t imaginative enough to see the true long-term self-interest and thus believe it’s merely either altruism or flattery-for-favours, but it’s probably just base misogyny at work.

    2. Male voices, even on feminist issues, are still considered more “valid” and worth hearing. My husband and I witness this first-hand all of the time. If I make an argument on a gaming forum I’m lambasted and told to shut up, just with a female username. If he makes the same argument, word-for-word, people sit down and discuss it rationally… and are actually willing to listen, and even admit he might be right.

      It’s mind-blowing to watch and incredibly disheartening as well, to know that my voice will never be as heard as his on issues that I experience personally and he is only able to experience secondhand. It frustrates him to no end, as well.

      People are having their power threatened. They’re not just laughing it off anymore, they’re now lashing out — violently — against it. Someone said to me the other day “My greatest fear is of being oppressed (by women)”… so he does everything in his power to never let them do, what he does to them every day.

  7. This has created frustrating comments on other news sites. Questions like “why does she need money to make a documentary” or “why does this need to exist”. The first is obvious, the second should be DOUBLY obvious after the vile attacks.

  8. its havin a positive effect already.

    if you look at destructoid as a site. anytime a female journalist posts an article there it always gets criticised harshly – way more so than through the male journalism. i was introduced to feminist frequency through that site due to this kickstarter project. since the launch of the project, although there is still huge poorly educated criticism in the comments section, it is obvious people have been watchin the videos and are openin their eyes somewhat.

    when Anita Sarkeesian releases these videos the effect in gamin communities will be catastrophic – i cannot wait. i am a 100% gamin nerd and truly believe this is the most important thing to happen in gamin this year.

    sadly though i also believe the abuse will be worse before it gets better

  9. One thing I will note is that it’s definitely showing off just how powerless these loons are. For all the vitriol in her comment threads and on Wikipedia, she’s into the high five figures for an Internet video series. That’s a crazily large amount.

    1. It’s even more amazing when you realize that about 40% alone was raised during the last few days after the harassment story hit the news. Before it was about $50-55k – now she’s approaching $90k. So yeah, congratulations to the trolls! You made sure the backing for this project that you wanted to shut down has almost doubled!

  10. I am staring, flabbergasted, at the comments on the link. I… How does this happen? I’m on the computer a lot, and I’ve NEVER seen things that bad. How do people get so riled up about another person’s opinion?

  11. Even though the campaign is over, the harassment hasn’t stopped. Strong trigger warning on this one, but here is an article at the New Statesman that talks in detail about some of the more recent things Anita Sarkeesian has had to deal with: http://www.newstatesman.com/blogs/internet/2012/07/what-online-harassment-looks Including a computer game where you punch her in the face and bruises appear (there are screenshots, so again, proceed with caution). Apparently this joker is the guy who made the game.

    I really don’t know what to say outside of just being horrified and disgusted :(

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