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.
$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.