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.
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).
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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