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Each new video that Anita Sarkeesian posts is a sign that the bullies are losing

Anita Sarkeesian, still standing
Anita Sarkeesian, still standing

On Monday, Anita Sarkeesian posted the latest installment of her Tropes Vs. Women in Video Games series on YouTube, a half-hour examination of the ways in which video game makers use sexualized violence against women as a cheap way to spice up their narratives and appeal to straight male gamers.

Her tone was measured, her analysis clear and logical and supported by dozens of clips from a wide assortment of games.

Late Tuesday night, this happened:

That’s right: Sarkeesian was forced to leave her home due to violent threats against her and her family … because she made a YouTube video analyzing violence against women in video games.

She then posted some of the threats she had gotten from a Twitter account set up specifically to harass and threaten her and her family. [TRIGGER WARNING for graphic rape and death threats.]

For a larger version of the screenshot, see here.

Sarkeesian has also been tweeting some of the other threats she gets on a daily basis from anonymous gamers who are incensed that a woman has anything critical to say about their precious video games.

https://twitter.com/femfreq/status/504437681527353344/photo/1

You’ll notice that several of these threatening comments mention videos by Thunderf00t, a “skeptic” videoblogger best known, at least in the corner of the internet I write about, for a series of videos in which he viciously attacks some of the women who’ve drawn the most internet hate from angry misogynists – from skeptics like Rebecca Watson and Melody Hensley to video game maker Zoe Quinn and video game critic Sarkeesian.

Thunderf00t’s attacks have won him kudos from assorted Men’s Rights activists, from the regulars on the Men’s Rights subreddit to A Voice for Men “operations manager” Dean Esmay, who has praised his videos and urged other MRAs to subscribe to them.

In other words, the harassment of feminist women on the internet is directly linked to antifeminist propagandists like Thunderf00t – and his MRA fans and enablers.

The constant, vicious, personal attacks on Sarkeesian you see not only in video game circles but from Men’s Rights Activists – on Reddit, on A Voice for Men, on YouTube, and so on – have helped to create a hostile environment in which critiques of sexism in games result in real-world death and rape threats against women. This has an undeniably chilling effect on the free speech of women. That in fact is the intent of the harassers.

Margaret Atwood once famously observed that

Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them.

I think we need an internet corollary to Atwood’s observation:

Men posting on the internet are afraid that women will block them. Women are afraid that men will treat them like Anita Sarkeesian.

Thing is, Sarkeesian keeps moving forward, diligently researching and putting forth the videos she promised she would. All the huffing and puffing of her critics and attackers hasn’t shut her up. Each new video she puts out is a testament to her courage and her perseverance. Each new video is a blow against those who would shut women up. Each new video helps to inspire others who’ve gotten similar threats to continue speaking up and speaking out.

Supporting Sarkeesian helps to support every woman who wants to be able to speak out online without fear of violent threats. There’s no better proof of this than how angry the biggest misogynistic bullies get whenever feminists and other people of good conscience rally around her. The bullies are still angry about the money she raised via kickstarter, money that has enabled her to bring a new professionalism to her videos.

Hell, AVFM Bully-in-chief Paul Elam is still so angry about this that he’s already accusing her of “damseling for dollars,” collecting “gash-cash” because of these latest Twitter threats. Indeed, in a post that’s a lot more revealing than he intends it to be, he complains bitterly that she’s getting bigger donations than he is:

I am jealous. I have had half the major media in a couple of countries disingenuously and maliciously demonize me. Even after forcing some retractions I bet I got more threats than Sarkeesian.

My reward? Jack shit.

Maybe it was because I didn’t swoon hard enough or treat the threats like they were tickets to Disneyworld.

Oh, don’t be modest, Paul. You take in tens of thousands every year by pretending to be some sort of human rights generalissimo. You raked in $35,000 this summer by trumpeting “threats” that you were saying privately were phony.

While Elam “damsels” and fumes, Sarkeesian simply goes about doing the job she set out to do. Each video she puts out is yet another “fuck you” to her haters, and they know it.

U mad bros?

Here’s the video that caused all the stir. It’s well worth watching. CONTENT WARNING: Graphic violence against women.

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inurashii
inurashii
6 years ago

Zoe Quinn’s harassment just stepped up too, after far-right reactionary douchebag actor Adam Baldwin (whom you probably remember as Jayne from firefly) signal boosted her harassment videos.

I accidentally left tumblr anon on after I announced RuinJam, and in the space of a few hours I got a “circlejerk over c*nts and wh*res” comment, a bizarre all-caps antisemitic screed, and a promise to make a rape simulator for my mascot character.

It’s been a bad week for my industry.

Lee
Lee
6 years ago

I’ve been following this on Twitter, and I realise this is like fighting fire with fire after recent events, but: WHERE IS THE FBI? THESE ASSHOLES NEED TO BE IN JAIL..

andrea harris
6 years ago

I doubt the FBI can do much of anything. And there are legions of “freeze peach” champions who will say assaults like these are part and parcel of the wonderful American way of life, which is why I’m thinking more and more of moving to someplace like Uruguay.

auralfixations
6 years ago

It’s obvious that her critics don’t even bother to watch the videos, because in each installment, Sarkeesian has been really measured and fair. She makes it pretty clear with her disclaimer in each intro that it’s important to critique some aspects of a piece of media, but that doesn’t mean it has no value or that one can’t enjoy it.

Nitram
6 years ago

Oh my god that poor woman. She is so brave to soldier on like this. I finally watched some of her videos yesterday and they were very well made, organized perfectly, hundreds of examples, intelligent and very measured, calm, no vitriol whatsoever. What kills me is she’s pointing out things that are obvious to anyone who has ever come into contact with a video game. She is neither threatening nor controversial even. I just don’t understand the levels of anger and hatred. So revealing how invested they are in the status quo.

auralfixations
6 years ago

@ inurashii I didn’t know that Jayne was actually terrible 🙁

Luzbelitx
6 years ago

All my love and support to Annita!!

I love how she’s standing up to bullies, and they drown in their own desperation when their all mighty weapon of harassment not only doesn’t stop her, but makes her appear even more heroic.

They also know that one single woman showing harassment is not the end of the discussion, can lead to all women believing they have a right to be on the internet un-harassed (or piss off harassers by not letting them stop her).

They are terrified, but also very used to reading their own terror as rage. That’s what makes them dangerous… and maybe what will bring them down in the end.

Harassment is their one trick, if it fails, they will repeat it in angrier ways, and make their behavior even more obvious to everyone.

What’s really sad and frustrating is that still someone need it to be even more obvious in order to acknowledge the problem.

Nitram
6 years ago

And can I just say that I’m thoroughly enjoying the rave reviews and legitimate praise and funding while Pauly boy stews and huffs. And loses. Losing! Love it!

Nitram
6 years ago

*her rave reviews (I should’ve phrased that differently)

Lee
Lee
6 years ago

Andrea: Yeah, I figured as much. I bet a Congressional hearing that won’t actually change much is all we’re going to get out of this. It took an unarmed teenager dying and days of protest in Ferguson to get anyone in DC to even pay lip service to the systemic racism there; I really hope no one has to die in gaming to get women’s rights reaffirmed.

Anita is doing a great service to women in tech, but I really do fear for her safety. I even fear for mine, just for retweeting things in support of her.

Katie Schenkel (@JustPlainTweets)

@auralfixations I knew about his past BS with ultraconservative tweets, but I hadn’t seen him go after feminists in particular before I heard about the Zoe stuff last night (it helps that I stopped following him years ago, I suppose).

Katie Schenkel (@JustPlainTweets)

The most ridiculous part about this is that there are parts of her videos I’ve disagreed with, but 1. most of her points are solid and 2. there’s absolutely no reason to threaten someone for having an opinion, especially when it has to do with discrimination against their own gender. And it just shows that the comments that come out against feminism prove that we need feminism since those comments can’t stop themselves from threatening harm on women.

pendraegon
pendraegon
6 years ago

I’m not a big fan of Anita Sarkeesian, but that’s more because I disagree with some of her examples, what she’s doing is in itself is definitely a worthwhile project. These sort of attacks though, I mean sweet Buddha, what the everloving hell. How is responding to serial killer type threats “damseling”? I’m a fairly sizable guy who’s studied martial arts and the first thing I’d do after reading those tweets is call the bloody cops and hide under a damn blanket. Gender doesn’t protect from crazy.

And the part about Adam Baldwin is also making me sad. I really want to like him, since I usually really like the characters he plays.

donovandigital
donovandigital
6 years ago

5-10 years from now, after Sarkeesian et al have made a noticeable impact, apologists for these assholes will say that they were simply “keeping her honest”.

deniseeliza
deniseeliza
6 years ago

Maybe it was because I didn’t swoon hard enough or treat the threats like they were tickets to Disneyworld.

Or maybe people like Anita Sarkeesian’s work more than they like yours, Paul Elam?

I so admire her and her bravery, honestly. But it’s terrible that she has to endure these attacks and worry about her safety.

Nitram
6 years ago

I am in utter awe of this woman’s bravery. When the MRAs went after my husband, one commenter on his blog wrote “I hope your wife dies of c**t cancer, because she is a c**t.” That was enough to make me want to call the cops! I hope she’s coping well. That level of harassment can be very traumatic. I was looking for gray hairs in this latest video she did!

auralfixations
6 years ago

@ Katie Schenkel and pendraegon
I always assume that the characters I like on shows are actually cool, and I am usually disappointed… I totally though Lucy Lawless would be a bad-ass feminist but every interview or performance I’ve seen of her other than Xena has made me realize she’s just a regular lady desperate for attention. Even worse is Kevin Sorbo’s weird racist screed the other night when I assumed he was like, a defender of the innocent and all that. (apparently I only watched TV on Saturday mornings..)

Sarah
Sarah
6 years ago

Re: Adam Baldwin, all I can say is that I am now ashamed to have been a fan of Firefly. Joss Whedon has been speaking out against the harassment of Anita Sarkeesian, but he hasn’t said word one about Zoe Quinn. I saw on her Twitter this morning that she got driven from her home too, and has been having trouble finding a place to sleep.

idledillettante
6 years ago

Every Anita Sarkeesian Rant I’ve ever seen always begins with the dudebro bitching that Sarkeesian disabled comments to her videos.

But I think forcing these dudebros to record their own “rebuttals” is actually way more revealing than if she left the comments open for trolling. This way you have to watch these dumbasses craft their entire point de novo; and it makes it that much more apparent how they miss the point of Sarkeesian’s videos.

Chie Satonaka
Chie Satonaka
6 years ago

Thanks for covering this, David! The comment thread on this story at Raw Story is 1,000 comments long. And they mostly agree that 1: She deserves it and 2: She’s making it all up. SMH.

Also, while there are a lot of derogatory words for women that make me cringe, “gash” is up there as the most disgusting and dehumanizing of the bunch, IMO. It illustrates just how ugly misogyny really is.

Misha
Misha
6 years ago

The AVfM article is a corker:

“Her arguments are poorly articulated, boring, constructed like slop, highly biased and completely, excruciatingly stupid.”

Don’t let your projection hit your bruised ego on the way out, ‘Dr’ Elam.

inurashii
inurashii
6 years ago

But she’s gonna go to PAX anyway. At this point IDGAF if she’s been manipulative for prominence or influence — the price has been absurdly, inordinately high. At this point, even people who would otherwise steer clear of her are standing behind her without reservation.

Effectively, even if everything these human trash cans are saying was true? They’re actively working against their goals. They don’t seem to understand how terrible this all looks to everyone.

idledillettante
6 years ago

is “gash” the new, sanitized term for cunt now? Reminds me of the OITNB episode where the guards call Piper a “demanding poochie” because they can’t say “bitch” any longer.

BreakfastMan
BreakfastMan
6 years ago

God damn, my respect of Anita only continues to grow. The fact that she puts up with this and continues to do good work is just incredible, for it seems most would have quite years ago. And her supporters are the best too. Felicia Day, Tim Schaefer, Neil Gaimen, Joss Whedon, William Gibson, and CliffyB have all expressed their support of her. Makes me feel like things might actually get better. 🙂

Pocket Nerd
6 years ago

These videos have been real eye-openers for me. I was particularly horrified to discover there’s an actual achievement in a game for tying up a woman, placing her on railroad tracks, and watching a train kill her. I don’t mind violence in games, but that’s gendered violence in a way that simply shooting or running people over isn’t. It says a lot about the developers and their perceived audience… and what it says ain’t good.

Bina
Bina
6 years ago

I am jealous. I have had half the major media in a couple of countries disingenuously and maliciously demonize me. Even after forcing some retractions I bet I got more threats than Sarkeesian.

My reward? Jack shit.

Maybe it was because I didn’t swoon hard enough or treat the threats like they were tickets to Disneyworld.

Or maybe it’s because your product is hateful horseshit and the whole world knows it, Paulie.

But hey! Enjoy all the thousand$ in “gash cash” (what a lovely, sexist term!) that you raked in by “damselling” that evil feminists were out to get you when you threw your epic fail of an “international men’s rights conference”. That had to be moved from a downtown hotel to a sad-sack legion hall in the sticks. Surely all that was not a cover for the fact that your shindig was even more poorly attended than initially expected, and even the smaller venue was too big…hahahahahaha.

Fred_the_Dog
6 years ago

Why do some people think that games should be a big ol’ boys’ club? Do they not realize that *more* gamers results in more and better games because more money is spent on them; as more money is spent on them, more people go into game design? If games start to shrink (and I think I read that this is already happening) because hardcore gamers are driving people away from *their* games, there will be fewer of their sorts of games…and more sorts of games like “Farmville” which are likely the antithesis of the sort of game these gamers prefer.

There are many guy gamers who like women, have significant women in their lives, and would like to play these games together. But if women aren’t welcome or don’t feel welcome, they’re going to play other types of games.

FunknJunk
FunknJunk
6 years ago

Well, golly, douche-canoes get upset when people donate to her cause? Does she have a donate page anywhere someone can link me to? I must admit, I’m a musician too busy to have watched her videos yet (on my TO DO list), but I’ll give her moneys just for support and to piss off the toadies ….

Chie Satonaka
Chie Satonaka
6 years ago

@idledillettante, it’s definitely been around for awhile, because I remember hearing it back in junior high and being wholly grossed out…that would’ve been early ’90’s.

@PocketNerd, I totally agree! I knew games like GtA were sexist, but I don’t tend to play the other games she’s talked about, like Hitman. For one thing, at this point if I *have* to play as a guy, I skip the game, and I have no shame in doing that. I get to spend my money how I want. I do play Dragon Age, and fully agree that the city elf origin story is extremely disturbing. I will stick with Skyrim, Mass Effect, and other sandbox style RPGs that allow me the freedom of playing how I want.

Leela
Leela
6 years ago

Women are playing more games. Women now make up the majority of gamers. And it’s not all just playing farmville, either:
http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2014/08/25/study-adult-women-gamers-outnumber-teenage-boys

magnesium
magnesium
6 years ago

@Fred_the_Dog
That’s pretty much what’s going to happen. The cost to produce games continues to skyrocket, and the retail prices have remained the same for over a decade. DLC’s help, but “hardcore” gamers tend to throw hissy fits when they have to pay for DLC’s (as if video games are a necessity, rather than a luxury good that you are absolutely not owed if you cannot pay for them). The way games are marketed to these people, making them feel like they are part of a special club just by buying and using the same product, means the demographic is already smaller than it could be. The fans are now trying their best to ensure that the customer base continues to shrink. Something’s going to give. Either the customer base needs to grow, or AAA games are going to start costing $150 a piece. Or, more likely, every developer is going to focus on making free-to-play app games that “hardcore” games love so much.

Bina
Bina
6 years ago

is “gash” the new, sanitized term for cunt now?

Yup. Although, given that a gash is an open wound, I would argue that it’s not sanitized, it’s even uglier, because it carries with it the connotation of male-inflicted, rapey violence.

Exuin.exe
Exuin.exe
6 years ago

So were just going to ignore the fact that she stole video footage, lied about liking games, ripped off all her backers, and is a year behind schedule on her videos, makes up most of the points she tries to make (Hitman absolution did not want you to kill the hookers Anita don’t make things up.), and just white knight everything she says and let her ruin Mirror’s Edge 2.

emilygoddess - MOD
emilygoddess - MOD
6 years ago

I am jealous. I have had half the major media in a couple of countries disingenuously and maliciously demonize me. Even after forcing some retractions I bet I got more threats than Sarkeesian.

My reward? Jack shit.

Maybe it was because I didn’t swoon hard enough or treat the threats like they were tickets to Disneyworld.

I don’t think this is “unintentionally revealing”. I think Paul is counting on the competitive impulse of MRAs, a la the “tropes vs men” kickstarter, to generate more donations. “C’mon, lads! Let’s show ’em we hate women more than they hate men!”

is “gash” the new, sanitized term for c*nt now?

It’s not really new.

Tabby Lavalamp
6 years ago

“I totally though Lucy Lawless would be a bad-ass feminist but every interview or performance I’ve seen of her other than Xena has made me realize she’s just a regular lady desperate for attention.”

I don’t get that at all from her. When I look at her, I see an actress who uses her fame for activist causes. And GOOD causes like the environment.

Fnoicby
Fnoicby
6 years ago

I bet these are the same guys that whine that women don’t like “nice guys” like themselves…

auralfixations
6 years ago

@ Tabby You’re probably right, I don’t follow her and haven’t seen her in a while. I may be romanticizing my memories of when I first realized she wasn’t really Xena…and that was, in truth, quite a while ago. So…maybe not a good example lol. but it did really destroy me for a little while

Cassie's Major Domo
Cassie's Major Domo
6 years ago

I am jealous. I have had half the major media in a couple of countries disingenuously and maliciously demonize me.

“Half the major media?” Come on, Paul: outside of your Circle of Hate and those of us who mock you, nobody knows who you are. Still ticked off that Roosh has more hits, huh?

is “gash” the new, sanitized term for cunt now?

My first recollection of seeing “gash” as a female genitalia slang term was back in the ’90s, although I don’t recall it being equal to the c-word at the time, or being terrible common.

auralfixations
6 years ago

Now I have to go look her up again

Chie Satonaka
Chie Satonaka
6 years ago

I’ve always loved Lucy Lawless whenever I see interviews of her. She’s had a really interesting life (she was a miner at one point), she always seems really down to earth, funny, and smart.

Now, Adam Baldwin I’ve known about for awhile. Back in the day, several Firefly actors would show up on the official bulletin boards and post. Nathan Fillion was always gracious, accessible, and awesome, while Baldwin would launch far-right political rants and generally be an ass.

drmrsthemonarch1
6 years ago

In other words, the harassment of feminist women on the internet is directly linked to antifeminist propagandists like Thunderf00t – and his MRA fans and enablers.

I’ve been thinking lately that I should start calling them “antiegalitarians” (or something similar), rather than “antifeminists.” After all, the latter is a term they self-apply; much like “pro-life,” it has no basis in reality. It’s propaganda. Feminists are by definition egalitarians, so to be antifeminist is to be antiegalitarian. I feel like in conversations with them, calling them what they want to be called is far too flattering, not to mention incorrect.

Also, I thought that was by far the best video Anita’s done. If it doesn’t drive home the importance of feminist media critique, I can’t think of anything that will.

auralfixations
6 years ago

Oh no- now I feel like I’ve missed out on a whole life of loving Lucy Lawless- I must have been really traumatized. I’m looking at her Wikipedia- I remember hearing about the arrest of the activists on the oil drilling ship, but I never heard she was one of them. I think I should take back all the things I said about her. Kevin Sorbo on the other hand, is another matter.

emilygoddess - MOD
emilygoddess - MOD
6 years ago

I’s still trying to figure out how Adam Baldwin ended up working with Joss Whedon.

Anenome
Anenome
6 years ago

Elam:

“I have had half the major media in a couple of countries disingenuously and maliciously demonize me.”

He really, really, really, really, *really* wishes he’d had that much attention.

But he hasn’t. He really hasn’t. His sad-case ramshackle cohort of bloggers were laughed at and ridiculed, but his victim mentality and egotism means that he just *has* to regard himself as important.

he’s a joke.

Chie Satonaka
Chie Satonaka
6 years ago

@emilygoddess, no kidding! I mean, I have my own political leanings (generally far left hippie who is too dependent on technology to actually be a hippie), but I’m able to keep my commentary to myself at work. I work with several conservatives who are friends, and we can do that because we don’t try rubbing the other’s nose in any sort of “gotcha” crap and just interact like human beings. But after reading Baldwin’s posts on that bulletin board (this was back during the runup to the Iraq occupation), I can’t imagine he’s able to do that.

Misha
Misha
6 years ago

Argh, that WORD!!

The term gained massive popularity as a slang term in the UK when The Inbetweeners was released in 2008. For anyone who hasn’t heard of It, it’s a hit channel 4 comedy series starring four teenage lads and one of the four central characters, Jay, uses “gash” to describe any girl that he wants to, or blindly insists he already has, slept with. That, or “clunge” *retches loudly. I was a fresher when the first series came out, and it’s all you ever heard around campus. It got very old very quickly. Another Inbetweeners movie has recently been released in UK cinemas so yeah, we still see “gash” used a lot as a disparaging slang term to describe vaginas, or to more broadly describe girls and women in general.

I had no idea the use of that horrible word was more widespread, and it’s very, very weird to see Paul Elam using it in reference to Anita S when I’m used to hearing it shouted by school boys hanging around outside McDonalds after closing time.

Cassie's Major Domo
Cassie's Major Domo
6 years ago

it’s very, very weird to see Paul Elam using it in reference to Anita S when I’m used to hearing it shouted by school boys hanging around outside McDonalds after closing time.

I don’t know, Paul Elam seems a lot less mature than school boys hanging around McDonalds, so I can’t say I’m too surprised. Paul also strikes me as someone who hangs around Urban Dictionary trying to find new misogynist slurs he can use.

Bina
Bina
6 years ago

I’m pretty sure Elam has some kind of unofficial misogynist thesaurus at the ready. Full of ugly synonyms for the c-word, which in itself is ugly just by how it sounds. And a disproportionate number of them make the female genitalia out to be a man-inflicted wound, rather than born-this-way, got-nothin’-to-do-with-him organs.

moscow nights
moscow nights
6 years ago

Thank you very much, David, for reporting on this and stating so clearly what the ultimate goal here is – the silencing of women. You are the only journalist I can think of who could draw these threads together, showing how AVFM is supporting the terrorism against this lady. I too am in awe at her courage and have benefited from her example.

Johanna Roberts
6 years ago

Those tweets were beyond disturbing. Anita is an amazing and brave person for still doing what she does. And I’m glad she does, it’s depressing when abuse like this silences a woman. I can totally understand the decision to stop (given some of the threats we open ourselves up to) but it’s still tragic when the violence works. It just validates these buttwaffles. So glad she’s still trucking on.

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