Anita Sarkeesian, producer of the Feminist Frequency series of YouTube videos, has received threats deemed serious enough for her to leave home and stay with friends, she reported via Twitter yesterday.
The tweets, from a throwaway account under the name @kdobbsz, made graphic threats of murder, rape and sexual violence against Sarkeesian and her family, as well as publishing her home address. Sarkeesian reprinted the threats via twitter, with trigger warnings firmly in place.
The video which prompted the tirade, embedded below, focussed on the use of women as background plot devices: that they are generally reduced to sexualised objects, often included only to suffer violence. Add irony to the long list of things which the misogynist troll is too dense to understand.
Sarkeesian is no stranger to harassment from the wide variety of misogynists, MRAs, violent fantasists and bottom feeders which populate the murkier strata of the internet and society at large. Right from the inception of her Kickstarter campaign to fund her Tropes Vs. Women in Video Games series, Sarkeesian was subjected to torrents of threats and abuse, from the predictably mundane to the criminally overt. One particularly infuriated mouth breather went so far as to create a flash game in which the object was to beat a virtual Sarkeesian until her face was rendered unrecognisable, simultaneously justifying Sarkeesian's concerns about attitudes towards women on the internet and the stereotypes about the nature of her detractors' motives.
In my work I witness so many women being harassed. I know how hard it is to watch & how helpless it can feel. Thank you all for your support— Feminist Frequency (@femfreq) August 27, 2014
Rail as they might against the slow but welcome progression of humanity, Sarkeesian's tormentors have failed to make any impact whatsoever on her determination. Her Kickstarter campaign rocketed past her initial goals and secured a funding total of 15 times her original aim. She remained resolute and determined, as you can read in our 2012 interview with her here, and continues to produce her videos with regularity, reciving support from well known feminist activists in gaming and the wider media. Long may she continue.
Sarkeesian's experiences echo those of, amongst many, many others, Zoe Quinn, who has been subjected to an endless stream of vile abuse, threats, doxxing, and a general campaign of spittle-flecked hate ever since an ex-boyfriend printed details of their private life online, including allegations of infidelity. Until now, it's something we've deferred from writing about, given its intensely personal nature, but now seems as good a juncture as any to make clear that this sort of behaviour, this culture (at the risk of defaming that word) is something we, as a site and as individuals, stand in complete opposition to. We will do whatever we can to combat any prejudice, hate speech or threatening behaviour, either here or anywhere else.
This is an industry news website, not a charity or a campaign centre, but it is well within our remit to attempt to make our industry better through the promotion of inclusivity and the eradication of prejudice. If you feel you're being belittled or marginalised in our comments, please use the report comment button or contact us via firstname.lastname@example.org. If you see it happening elsewhere, let us know and we'll try and report on it.
A wider audience, one that feels welcome, included and safe, is a benefit and a boon to us all.