I’m done. Seriously, if there’s a seat on a manned mission to Mars, I will sign up for it. It fact, I’ll go further: is anybody willing to sponsor a mission to the furthest reaches of the solar system? Need a volunteer? I am totally down for that. Where do I put my signature?
You might reasonably ask what brought on this outburst. I’ll tell you. It was a blog post I read yesterday. It was posted by the game critic Anita Sarkeesian of the organisation Feminist Frequency, whose Tropes vs Women in Video Games videos dissect…well, women in games. Sarkeesian is of a scholarly bent, always backing up what she says with well reasoned argument, logic, and plenty of examples. You’d be more likely to be offended by a chocolate kitten then you would by a Feminist Frequency video. At least, that’s what I thought.
And yet, there was this blog post. It began with a message from Sarkeesian:
Ever since I began my Tropes vs Women in Video Games project, two and a half years ago, I’ve been harassed on a daily basis by irate gamers angry at my critiques of sexism in video games. It can sometimes be difficult to effectively communicate just how bad this sustained intimidation campaign really is. So I’ve taken the liberty of collecting a week’s worth of hateful messages sent to me on Twitter. The following tweets were directed at my @femfreq accountbetween 1/20/15 and 1/26/15.
She then posted screenshots of these tweets.
That was just the start. These tweets went on, and on, and on. I gave up counting. It was just an outpouring of bile, the worst kind of hatred, the most unspeakable images. Every time I scrolled down, I felt like a tiny bit of my soul was burning away.
And no, you don’t get a fucking trigger warning. One: that’s a vacuous term, and you should be ashamed of yourself for using it. Two: I want you to feel what I felt. I want you to be angry. I want you to be enraged.
I realise I may come off a bit naive with all this. I don’t intend to. I’m well aware of how nasty the Internet can be, and I’m even more aware of how nasty the world outside it can be, where genuine atrocities aren’t kept to a single tweet. I’m also well aware that this abuse is not new to Sarkeesian — she’s been dealing with it for a while.
But there was something about this particular post that was worse than everything else.
I cannot think of a single reason for these tweets to exist. Really, not one. There is not a single justification for the things these people are saying. I don’t care how offended you are, how badly your delicate sensibilities have been bruised. You. Do. Not. Say. These. Things. Ever. You can’t justify them. You can’t make excuses for them. There is no moral grey area here.
These aren’t like YouTube comments, which while offensive, tend to have a wide field of fire. These aren’t nasty e-mails. These are direct, abusive statements to a single person, using the most disgusting, horrific imagery possible. This, right here, is the bottom of the Internet’s sewer system.
In a way, it’s better that most of them are anonymous. That’s the one thing that gives me a little bit of hope. Because it means these people are too cowardly To put their names behind the things they’re right, and they would never, ever say them out loud, to anyone. If Anita Sarkeesian walked in the room, they’d probably shit themselves in fear.
The sad thing is, there’s absolutely nothing anybody can do about this, least of all Sarkeesian. The only thing she could possibly do would be to stop filming her videos, and there is absolutely no world in which she would do that, because (if you’ll forgive the gender-based metaphor) she has balls the size of watermelons. Please: go and watch Tropes vs Women in Video Games. I’m the first to admit that it has a terrible name, like an academic’s version of a B-movie. But each one is worth watching, and every view is a middle finger up to these giant fuck-knuckles who think it’s OK to threaten women.
On second thought, that may be a very good reason not to move to Mars. I doubt I can get a Wi-Fi signal up there. I’d miss her next video.