Internet Misogyny Datapoint: the hatefest aimed at Anita Sarkeesian

Every time women on the internet point out how routine it is for a woman’s mere presence on the internet to provoke squadrons of flying he-man-she-hater monkeys to post floods of vile abuse, someone reckons that it’s not really that bad and women should just get thicker skins/lighten up/stop whining etc.

After a while, as it keeps on happening, it can be easy to stop reacting when yet another woman is targeted for a hatefest – we’ve seen it all before, nothing new here (as noted by Jessica Coen at Jezebel). The women this is happening to deserve better than to have the rest of us shrug at yet another barrage of intimidatory hate speech – this bullshit deserves to be documented every single time, to show both the pattern of harassment and to let the targets know that they’re not alone and that it’s not actually about them qua them – it’s about attempting to silence all of us.

Documentation of the virulence of the abuse is why Anita Sarkeesian did not delete the backlash comments on her YouTube channel recently. Sarkeesian analyses pop culture and started a Kickstarter fundraiser to get a new project off the ground. Because the project focuses on the most common tropes and stereotypes of female characters in games, there was an immediate anti-feminist push-back which ended up in organised campaigns to vandalise her project and trash her reputation.

3,275 Backers
$77,102 pledged of $6,000 goal
3 days to go

The fund-raising has nonetheless reached its target and is still rising.

The intimidation and harassment effort has included a torrent of misogyny and hate speech on my YouTube video, repeated vandalizing of the Wikipedia page about me, organized efforts to flag my YouTube videos as “terrorism”, as well as many threatening messages sent through Twitter, Facebook, Kickstarter, email and my own website. These messages and comments have included everything from the typical sandwich and kitchen “jokes” to threats of violence, death, sexual assault and rape. All that plus an organized attempt to report this project to Kickstarter and get it banned or defunded. Thankfully, Kickstarter has been incredibly supportive in helping me deal with the harassment on their service.

As Anita notes, all this occurred in reaction to a project [that’s not] even created yet. […] It’s very telling that there is this much backlash against the mere idea of this series being made.

Geek Feminism Blog, Feminist Philosophers, Jezebel

Categories: culture wars, gender & feminism, media

Tags: , , , ,

12 replies

  1. It is interesting that the Kickstarter project has raised so much money over its original aim. Obviously there are a lot of people out there who don’t want to put themselves into the firing line, but are prepared to give money to someone who will. I hope she has the support to keep going now that the project is funded.

  2. People giving silently to end the silencing techniques.

  3. Since yesterday, the kickstarter has almost doubled it’s backers again and an extra $32K. A lot of people seem to be coming in from sites reporting on this. I have to admit whilst this has been going on, my brain has been playing the first few lines of “thank you hater” on repeat.

  4. Yes, I suspect a lot of people who don’t want (or have the time or energy or resources) to be in the firing line themselves are using this as a way to show how much they disapprove of the rape and death threats whenever a woman says almost anything online. It’s really heartening. “The lurkers support me in email” and this time it’s cash support!
    I’m thinking about if there are ways to take this somewhere – because this is one of the first times I’ve seen such clear evidence that the haters might be a strongly-disapproved-of minority.

  5. Favourite tweet today

    Bill Stiteler ?@bstiteler
    To the hateful, misogynistic trolls: her $6k Kickstarter is now over $100k. YOU GET NOTHING. YOU LOSE. GOOD DAY, SIR.
    Retweeted by imogen birley

  6. How do you clean out that bottomless pit of woman hatred? It freaks me the hell out.
    A couple of years ago, I had a blog about my ethnic community and most of the opposing responses had nothing to do with gender, but there was one serious harasser who threatened me with rape.
    I think they do it – the trolls – because it works. It is bloody terrifying.
    But in my less freaked moments, I look at it this way: throughout human history (cf Jarod Diamond, Third Chimpanzee) – and particularly since the rise of agriculture – women have suffered near universal oppression.
    The process of our emancipation is an incredibly recent phenomenon.
    I honestly believe that if we can keep up the momentum, this sort of hatred will become more and more fringe until it all but disappears.
    That’s why I think the biggest threat to us is not from the trolls themselves – they’re just a symptom of the disease we’ve not yet cured.
    I worry more about political conditions that allow for the exploitation of misogyny for votes and re-entrench it in the popular discourse…while robbing us of our rights and dignity in ways that can be hard to reverse.
    Sorry for the rant. This subject gets my blood up!

  7. She’s going to have enough to found a whole institute soon. The 4Chan Institute of Dazzling Own Goals.

  8. ”Documentation of the virulence of the abuse is why Anita Sarkeesian did not delete the backlash comments”
    No, she did not delete the comments because they’re EXACTLY what she wanted. Anita has had a long love affair with censorship both on her channel and her site and we’re supposed to be surprised when people that do not agree with her are allowed to speak after three bloody years they’re vicious? Now she gets to say “See? this is why I censor comments not because being called on my poorly researched bull scares me!”

    • Even if it were true that Sarkeesian was relying on her detractors to unleash a virulent tide of misogynistic abuse upon her in order to convince other people to fund her project, the fact that the virulent tide arrived exactly as expected is hardly a counterargument against her hypothesis that a subculture of gamer misogyny exists.

  9. Wait, what? Anita Sarkeesian, by editing or deleting comments on her site, has managed to prevent anyone, anywhere, from presenting counterarguments to her videos? She has truly amazing internet powers; I’m surprised she still has to make videos about cultural sexism and misogyny.

  10. Aqua of the Questioners, after reading Emma’s comment I thought Sarkeesian must be THE GOVERNMENT.

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