They’re still trying to silence Anita Sarkeesian

Since the launch of Feminist Frequency’s Tropes vs Women in Games, creator Anita Sarkeesian has faced a wall of abuse and threats from enraged critics of her detailed research that highlights misogyny in game fiction.

This week, the abusers drove her out of her own home.
Polygon

Why the latest escalation from the constant rumbling fulmination that has become Sarkeesian’s normal background noise? Because she published another video in her series of critiques: Women as Background Decoration: Part 2

The Women as Background Decoration trope which is the subset of largely insignificant non-playable female characters whose sexuality or victimhood is exploited as a way to infuse edgy, gritty or racy flavoring into game worlds. These sexually objectified female bodies are designed to function as environmental texture while titillating presumed straight male players. Sometimes they’re created to be glorified furniture but they are frequently programmed as minimally interactive sex objects to be used and abused.

There is a full transcript of the video at Feminist Frequency (scroll down past the media information about the episode).

Source: monkeyswithwings.com

Source: monkeyswithwings.com

The flying monkeys seem to be particularly outraged this time around that some prominent male pop culture figures have praised and shared this episode of Tropes vs Women. They’re also still fixated on Sarkeesian disabling the comments facility on her Youtube videos and her blog, repeating the usual frothing misunderstandings about the nature of free speech as justification for their barrages of insults and threats directed to her on Twitter (where of course she blocks them, which enrages them further).

For the record (because no matter how often it’s said some people still don’t get it) – freedom of speech means that one is free to publish whatever one likes on a media platform one administers oneself. Freedom of speech does not guarantee access to publish whatever one likes on a media platform administered by anybody else.

Nothing is stopping these flying monkeys from responding to Sarkeesian on their own blogs/forums/social-media spaces. Not one single thing is stopping any of the WATM brigade from starting their own Tropes Vs Men series on Youtube to respond substantively with their own counterexamples. That is what exercising their freedom of speech in response would actually look like – more speech published in easily accessible public spaces for the public to clearly see where they think she is wrong (and some of Sarkeesian’s critics are writing rebuttals in their own spaces). But the flying monkey brigade here is outraged because they are being blocked from responding in spaces Sarkeesian administers which would send automatic notifications of their outragefest directly to her inbox, because they know that an inbox full of hate is the most effective silencing tactic they can employ.

Sarkeesian is not the first and will not be the last woman who finds herself the target of a seemingly inexhaustible barrage of abuse for speaking out about toxic sociocultural views of women. She is simply engaged in sensible self-protection in employing every technical filter possible to minimise the amount of abuse that ends up in her inbox and timelines, and nothing she (or you or I) does to filter her inbox or timelines infringes upon anybody else’s freedom to say what they like where the rest of the world can see it if they want to see it. She (and you and I) are however allowed to choose not to look at or listen anything we don’t want to: the right to speak freely does not include the right to force others to listen.

n.b. For obvious reasons, Feministe’s Moderation Giraffe will be paying particular attention to this thread.


ADDENDUM: David Futrelle at We Hunted The Mammoth writes about the ongoing ‘gamerdoodz’ vs ‘SJWs’ harassment campaigns against games critic Sarkeesian, game developer Zoe Quinn (there’s a Quinnspiracy, people!), and any female game journalists they happen to notice. At the end he includes some links which I’ll paste here –

Here are some of the articles that have really pissed them off:

‘Gamers’ don’t have to be your audience. ‘Gamers’ are over, by Leigh Alexander at Gamasutra

The End of Gamers, by Dan Golding, on his own blog

It’s Dangerous to Go Alone: Why Are Gamers So Angry? by Arthur Chu at The Daily Beast

The death of the “gamers” and the women who “killed” them by Casey Johnson at Ars Technica

A Guide to Ending “Gamers” by Devin Wilson at Gamasutra

This guy’s embarassing relationship drama is killing the ‘gamer’ identity by Mike Pearl at Vice

If you only read one of these, make it that first one by Leigh Alexander, which is awesomely blunt.


UPDATE 2014/09/20 13:21 AEST: Zoe Quinn’s article on Cracked has more than 11,000 comments in 3 days.


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41 comments for “They’re still trying to silence Anita Sarkeesian

  1. August 28, 2014 at 8:52 pm

    It’s sad how often this kind of thing happens. I just wrote a pilot for a web series where the first season will focus on a target of a similar MRA hate campaign–and I had a completely different real life example in mind when writing it. I would say, “What (extremely unlucky) luck to have life coincide like this to highlight the importance of my project,” but this crap just happens so often. Urrgh…!

    It may be a rather frustrated show. We shall see.

    You can check it out if you want here: http://www.thisheathenlife.com

    • August 29, 2014 at 3:40 pm

      Looks awesome! I tried to make a donation, but couldn’t figure out how to do it without a Facebook account. I remember last time I backed something on Kickstarter, it went through my Amazon account, so I guess that changed. I’ll try to play with it more tonight … There must be other ways.

      • August 29, 2014 at 10:25 pm

        Update: Don’t be afraid to donate to this Kickstarter based on my apparent ignorance about how to sign in to a website. It was totally clear after a second look when I wasn’t trying to multitask five quadrillion other things at a time. :P

        Anyway, it looks like a fun project that, I hope, will also help illuminate important issues and power dynamics that so many people have trouble understanding.

  2. CW
    August 29, 2014 at 10:21 am

    Why did I read the comments on the Polygon article :(
    I saw the Tropes vs. Women videos, and I thought there were interesting and good for discussion, but I knew the moment I clicked on the first video there wouldn’t be any discussion in comments if there was a comment section.
    I’ve never given much thought to the freedom of speech argument. I know many people pull it out whenever they’re accused of being sexist/racist/etc. but giving it more thought it makes sense that it doesn’t automatically cover having to listen to (or read) the other person’s free speech.

  3. Andrew
    August 29, 2014 at 12:48 pm

    Straight white male gamer here (along with a host of other things that define me far better).

    No clue whatsoever why people are stressed about her critique. I mean, yes, I understand their sociological “fear,” which is silly.

    Her critiques are interesting and fun to watch, informative for anyone who’s never thought about this stuff and educating a host of young people to see the world differently. Why is that a bad thing? (rhetorical question for everyone here)

    I look forward to women-designed games that challenge me in ways I’m not used to. Go Anita!

    • Amy
      August 30, 2014 at 2:21 am

      Allies are so important, Andrew! You clearly rock.

      • Andrew
        August 30, 2014 at 8:12 pm

        Genuinely appreciated, Amy. It saddens me though that this is what constitutes male support in this day and age.

        I know there are many strong male allies, but I often wish I lived in the world where stupidity, fear and violence weren’t directed at women just trying to educate us.

        This is ridiculous, seriously.

  4. TomSims
    August 29, 2014 at 2:28 pm

    “the right to speak freely does not include the right to force others to listen.”

    Absolutely spot on!

  5. The Real Peterman
    August 29, 2014 at 4:09 pm

    Anita isn’t taking flack “for speaking out about toxic sociocultural views of women” but rather for making poorly-researched videos on a subject she claims to care passionately about even though there is video proof that she does not. Oh and she stole artwork from a struggling artist despite having almost a quarter- million-dollar budget.

    • PrettyAmiable
      August 29, 2014 at 4:51 pm

      Can you direct us to any resources? I can’t find anything that isn’t covered in misogynistic vitriol.

      • Jessica
        August 29, 2014 at 6:39 pm

        Game reviewer Angry Joe discussed this in the #3 slot of his Top 10 Gaming Controversies of 2013 (with timestamp, so you don’t need to watch the whole thing if you don’t want to).

        He says he’d like her to apologize for not giving credit where it is due, but the main point he makes is that Anita is absolutely entitled to her opinion, and pointing out problems in the gaming community.

        “If you can’t take a dissenting opinion, or someone who disagrees with you, then why the hell are you even subscribed to any review or editorial channel, at all?”

      • PrettyAmiable
        August 29, 2014 at 8:38 pm

        This was really helpful – thanks Jessica!

        If someone else wants to watch, for whatever reason, it didn’t jump to the right spot for me (maybe because of the ad I had to watch) – the Anita segment starts at about 24:30.

        OT, but I’ve never seen Angry Joe, and he seems pretty legit – thanks for sharing.

    • Donna L
      August 29, 2014 at 5:56 pm

      Why are you even bringing that up? Do you realize that you come across as arguing that her alleged shortcomings constitute an excuse for people to threaten to rape her, cut her throat, drink her blood, etc.? What the hell is wrong with you?

    • EG
      August 29, 2014 at 6:46 pm

      “Video proof” that she does not care about feminist cultural critique? “Video proof” that she does not care about video games?

      Tell me, why do you think a woman would do this, and take the kind of misogynist pig shit that trust me, she had a pretty good idea would be rolling her way, if she didn’t care passionately? Do you think this is fun for women? A fucking game? This is her safety and her life.

    • Echo Zen
      August 29, 2014 at 7:50 pm

      Yeah, poorly-researched videos and stolen artwork are totally why male gamers keep threatening to rape her. I’m sure that calling her a ****ing bitch and ugly cunt has nothing do with their hatred of female gamers… no, sir, not at all!

      Oh, and claiming the rape threats against Sarkeesian are over stolen artwork doesn’t do much to improve your credibility… especially when the project’s producers have already pointed the the entire project makes use of copyrighted media under fair use. Did you not notice her project makes use of video footage from copyrighted games, which is protected under the same fair use clause as her use of fan art? But hey, I’m sure there’s some other reason you think she should be threatened with rape and murder.

    • Karak
      August 29, 2014 at 9:47 pm

      I couldn’t help but notice you didn’t include your real name and a way for us commenters to access your named social media. Is there a reason for that?

    • PM
      September 2, 2014 at 10:50 pm

      Man, I actually agree with some of the criticisms I’ve read of her stuff, but misogyny and death threats are never, ever acceptable.

      “Anita isn’t taking flack ‘for speaking out about toxic sociocultural views of women’ but rather for making poorly-researched videos on a subject she claims to care passionately about even though there is video proof that she does not.”

      When you use a phrase like “taking flack,” you seriously downplay the threats she has faced. It’s never, ever OK.

  6. Li
    August 30, 2014 at 2:06 am

    I don’t really care for the Tropes VS women series that much. There are a number of things about the videos that I find extremely irritating, primarily her use of terms like “prostituted women” and some of the commentary that spills over from being about game representation to being about sex work in general.

    But all of that is irrelevant to the excruciating bullshit I’ve seen men throw out in discussions about Sarkeesian, including but not limited to accusations she is a scam artist, that threats against her are a publicity ploy by Sarkeesian herself, that death threats against Sarkeesian are evidence that her critics lack institutional power, that she is a “professional victim”, and MISANDRY. All literally from two facebook threads today.

  7. August 30, 2014 at 1:34 pm

    Why is it that we rarely hear about video games / organizations that are using video games in a positive way?

    Our nonprofit charity produces video games to reduce violence against women – and against men – in abusive relationships.

    Unfortunately you won’t read about it on this website (or many others) because a positive story about a positive use of video games doesn’t attract enough readers (sad, but true).

    For those who are interested our latest game is free to download for iOS, Android, and BlackBerry devices. After Labor Day the game will no longer be free so download it ►now◄ if you are interested.

    Video trailer and links to the appstores here:
    http://JenniferAnn.org/dating-abuse-game.htm

    Jennifer Ann’s Group was created in 2006 in memory of Jennifer Ann Crecente, a high school senior killed by her ex-boyfriend.

    • Andrew
      August 30, 2014 at 8:06 pm

      Thanks, JAG. I downloaded it and if it lives up to its name, I’ll be promoting it around the clinic I work. We work with a lot of teens and young adults who would benefit from this.

      I’ll talk to my staff about it. You said it is only free this weekend. If we are trying to get young people to download it, is there a way we can get it to them for free as well?

      From the reviews and website, it looks good!

    • August 31, 2014 at 9:54 am

      Unfortunately you won’t read about it on this website (or many others) because a positive story about a positive use of video games doesn’t attract enough readers (sad, but true).

      You know, you can promote a game without being a condescending asshole about it. It’s not necessary to imply that the women running this blog are only trying pander to readers.

      Maybe no one has written about this game here because we haven’t heard of it?

      1) There’s a weekly self-promotion thread, which would have been a great way to make people away of what sounds like a pretty cool idea for a game

      2) You can also contact the mods about guest blogging, which also would have been a great way to let people know about your game.

      Both of these would have been way better options than bursting into a thread about a woman who is being threatened and forced out of her home for speaking critically about video games of all things, to announce “WHY CAN’T WE TALK ABOUT NICE THINGS?? I GUESS POSITIVE STORIES JUST DON’T SELL, AMIRITE?”

      • pheenobarbidoll
        August 31, 2014 at 4:37 pm

        Yup. Nailed it Andie.

  8. arcadesproject
    August 30, 2014 at 5:32 pm

    Isn’t the abuse leveled at Sarkeesian the mirror image of the rage against women embedded in the tropes she deconstructs? People who portray women like that are choked with rage, hate and maybe fear. They are dangerous and, alas, they are all over the place.

  9. tinfoil hattie
    August 31, 2014 at 9:37 am

    Dudes can’t stand that Ms. Sarkeesian has invaded their playground and exposed what they’re playing. The only reason for this amount of rage and threats is that these men want to be able to torture, rape, mutilate, and kill women without being bothered. She is ruining their fun, dude!

  10. August 31, 2014 at 5:42 pm

    Have just this as an addendum to the OP:

    David Futrelle at We Hunted The Mammoth writes about the ongoing ‘gamerdoodz’ vs ‘SJWs’ harassment campaigns against games critic Sarkeesian, game developer Zoe Quinn (there’s a Quinnspiracy, people!), and any female game journalists they happen to notice. At the end he includes some links which I’ll paste here –

    Here are some of the articles that have really pissed them off:

    ‘Gamers’ don’t have to be your audience. ‘Gamers’ are over, by Leigh Alexander at Gamasutra

    The End of Gamers, by Dan Golding, on his own blog

    It’s Dangerous to Go Alone: Why Are Gamers So Angry? by Arthur Chu at The Daily Beast

    The death of the “gamers” and the women who “killed” them by Casey Johnson at Ars Technica

    A Guide to Ending “Gamers” by Devin Wilson at Gamasutra

    This guy’s embarassing relationship drama is killing the ‘gamer’ identity by Mike Pearl at Vice

    If you only read one of these, make it that first one by Leigh Alexander, which is awesomely blunt.

    • PM
      September 2, 2014 at 11:06 pm

      Love those links and I love the “death of gamers” (it’s about damn time), but I have a serious bone to pick with the Vice article. What Eron Gjoni describes in his WordPress post is a textbook case of emotional abuse. The link is included in the Vice magazine article, but I’ll post it again:

      http://thezoepost.wordpress.com/

      This is abuse. Zoe Quinn is an abuser. How many times have we heard the tired line that abuse is “relationship drama,” that outing an abuser is done out of spite?

      • September 3, 2014 at 1:11 am

        Eron Gjoni’s original open letter post is not really the issue – we don’t know all that went on in their relationship and it’s not really anybody’s business but theirs, and on its own the post is just him laying out his side of the story. The response of others to claims made in Gjoni’s post is the issue here; those using it as justification for cyberyelling at her for days on end.

        Choosing to disassociate oneself from her or her works in response to the claims is a proportional response; joining the flying monkey brigade is simply jumping on the Acceptable Misogyny Target bandwagon.

      • PM
        September 3, 2014 at 12:35 pm

        I absolutely disagree, and can only assume that you did not actually read his post nor the evidence that he posted along with it. Abusers in left-wing communities, especially in positions of authority, will ALWAYS be an issue. Zoe Quinn needs to step down and shut up. This whole thing disgusts me. I’ll back off or take it to Spillover if you’d like, but please don’t dismiss evidence of abuse with tired lines like

        “it’s not really anybody’s business but theirs”

        and

        “on its own the post is just him laying out his side of the story.”

        These are common phrases used to handwave away abuse. He documented the abuse. He put it out there so that other people would know. He deserves better than to have it called “relationship drama” by a feminist who should know better.

      • September 3, 2014 at 5:07 pm

        Pheeno has already laid out the reasons why I don’t automatically accept his “evidence” as proving Quinn to be an abuser because of her infidelities, because the same evidence paints Gjoni as controlling and privacy-invading, which are red lights too. They strike me as equally immature and manipulative and probably feeding into each other’s worst instincts, and it’s good for both of them that they broke up.

        I also question your repeated claim that Quinn is in a ‘position of authority’. How exactly? She’s an independent game developer who had some very positive press when she started the Game Developer Help List on a shared Google Docs spreadsheet and also had some very positive press for one particular game she co-developed recently. Sure, she’s a ‘name’ with a certain level of celebrity cachet within the games industry, but who does she actually have any authority over?

      • pheenobarbidoll
        September 3, 2014 at 1:49 pm

        If that’s abuse then every single person trying to lie their way out of being caught cheating qualifies. I couldn’t get through the whole thing. The part I read sounded very much like 2 emotionally immature people in an immature relationship. He was having anxiety attacks over the idea she might break up with him? That’s not exactly healthy, either. And he tosses in some slut shaming himself. While understandable ( the cheated on tend to drag out stuff like that because they’re hurt and pissed) calling her skeevy for fucking 5 guys (the implication here is only slutty sluts fuck 5 whole guys) doesn’t paint him in the best light either. That’s as far as I could get frankly, because it started to look like every high school relationship ever. She was a cheating mcliarpants and he was clingymccontol. ( demanding to see her Facebook messages or he’d leave = controlling btw)

        Thank god there was no internet when i was younger. Not only would I have a blog listed every slight, unanswered call, lie and name of girls I was cheated on with, but there’d also be blogs of ex boyfriends listing my every slight and the couple of times I didn’t just cheat, I justified it by deciding I’d break up with the old boyfriend, he just wouldn’t find out til tomorrow. And I’m sure I told each one that I’d never cheat. I probably meant it in that moment too, until the next guy with long hair and a guitar strolled by. Thankfully, I’ve grown up and understand how to maintain a monogamous relationship, as well as how to make and keep promises.

        TL; DR

        He sounds extremely clingy and she sounds like she’s full of shit. They’ll both probably grow out of that one day.

      • pheenobarbidoll
        September 3, 2014 at 5:18 pm

        For the record, I’m not a gamer. I have no clue who this Zoe person is, have never heard of her until I read that angst diary and only sorta know who Anita Sarkeesian is because I’ve watched 2 possibly 3 of her youtube videos.

        But I will say this – sleeping with your soon to be boss is the exact opposite of being the one with power. I don’t care if you work in game development or at 7-11. That’s not power and that’s not authority.

      • September 3, 2014 at 5:53 pm

        I’m not a gamer either, but my sprogs are, and I know how to read Wikipedia. Quinn does not appear to be in a position where she hires or fires, and neither is she in a position where she greenlights or not. That’s almost zero ‘authority’ in the games industry then. She is a critical and activist voice, that’s all.

        There’s a lot of jawing going on about ethics and transparency in the gaming press as a result of this purported ‘Quinnspiracy’ but very little of it appears to be pointed at the actual journalists who are alleged to have talked up Quinn beyond her supposed merits because of alleged sexual relationships with her. Quinn is not the person who is supposed to adhere to journalistic ethics, the actual journalists are supposed to do that (and there’s only supposition so far to suggest that they might not have done so).

      • pheenobarbidoll
        September 3, 2014 at 6:36 pm

        Most of it is too convoluted for me to follow. It involves too many people I’m not familiar with and I’m not running top speed lately. But, because I felt kinda skeevy about reading some kids blog, I commented and told him my opinion of the whole thing ( which is basically what I wrote here) and told him to put this and her in his rearview. He told me he’s 24, which explains a great deal of the ” this is the worst person in the world she’s never to be trusted ever, because she cheated on me” . Plus, first love. Add the internet and there you go.

      • Donna L
        September 3, 2014 at 7:49 pm

        I couldn’t read past the first part. It’s too embarrassing. Infidelity is infidelity; it’s not “abuse.” No matter how bad it makes you feel. Even if the person promised not to cheat, and then lied about cheating.

      • pheenobarbidoll
        September 3, 2014 at 8:13 pm

        He deleted my comments where I pointed out where they both behaved like immature kids and that is was pretty clear they never had a healthy relationship. And I guess letting her fall on her face by herself and not appointing himself savior of the gaming world by ” warning” everyone that she’s a cheating cheater wasn’t drama llama enough to allow people to read either. He’ll cringe in 20 years when he reads this. It’s just a shame it’s become so public. Public online diaries are not the best idea ever. Oh well. He’ll learn the hard way I guess.

      • September 4, 2014 at 12:03 am

        I certainly hope Gjoni will come to understand and regret what he has inflicted on the wife of the married boss with whom Quinn admitted having an affair. He insisted that Quinn tell her, and when Quinn expressed reluctance he published those logs of their chats so that the whole gaming world got to know about it. He has no idea what the wife did or did not already know about her husband’s infidelities or what arrangements she may have come to to preserve her marriage if she did know, but now all their industry friends know about it and she has to deal with knowing that people are talking about it and has to anticipate expressions of sympathy to her face and wondering who is gossiping behind her back. All that loss of privacy and dignity for the wife is down to Gjoni because he wanted to shame her husband.

      • pheenobarbidoll
        September 4, 2014 at 1:03 am

        I mentioned that to him too. Told him their marriage was absolutely none of his business and he put his desire for making Zoe pay over the impact this would have on the wife. Also told him his expecting to read her messages was controlling..he then claimed it was just holding her to her own standards. I told him that was bullshit, it was nothing more than petty tit for tat games. He badgered her about going to therapy and I informed him that was not his place. She’s an adult and he is not responsible for her. His excuse was that he was trying to help her change so she couldn’t hurt people in the future. He also compared it to warning people about a bomb in a train station. I again told him it wasn’t that big a thing, cheating and lying are common in immature relationships and that my own past relationships make his look like Disneyland. My behavior and ex boyfriends behaviors. He deleted it all. Because he’s a vindictive man child and wants to be the victim and make her pay. It has nothing to do with her career or anyone she may work with in the future. And I hope he grows up soon because 24 is pushing it for having that attitude.

  11. September 19, 2014 at 11:27 pm

    UPDATE 2014/09/20 13:21 AEST: Zoe Quinn’s article on Cracked has more than 11,000 comments in 3 days.

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