Here's your daily reminder that Internet misogynists are vile, horrible creatures and that women face threats and harassment on a daily basis just for having opinions and voicing them: feminist media critic Anita Sarkeesian has been driven out of her own home after receiving an outpouring of death and rape threats on Twitter.
Sarkeesian is the creator of the popular "Tropes vs. Women in Video Games" series, in which she explores the portrayal of women in video games. (Surprise! They are not portrayed well.) In her most recent installment, "Women as Background Decoration, Part 2," she examined the way in which "sexualized female bodies often occupy a dual role as both sexual playthings and the perpetual victims of male violence" in video games, noting that women often function as "largely insignificant non-playable... characters whose sexuality or victimhood is exploited as a way to infuse edgy, gritty or racy flavoring into game worlds."
In the vlog, she argues that treating women in the way "sanitize[s] violence against women and makes it comfortably consumable." And misogynistic trolls are so outraged by this claim — among other criticisms she's made of sexism and objectification in gaming culture — that they threaten to violently rape and murder her. Obviously, the psyche of a woman-hating Internet lurker is incomprehensible to any functioning member of society, but this response is exceptionally baffling. These idiot trolls are so angry a woman criticizes video games for normalizing misogyny and violence against women that they... respond by proving her point to a terrifying extent. Great work, idiots.
Yesterday, Sarkeesisan tweeted, "Some very scary threats have just been made against me and my family. Contacting authorities now." About an hour later, she said, "I'm safe. Authorities have been notified. Staying with friends tonight. I'm not giving up. But this harassment of women in tech must stop!"
Later, she tweeted a particularly disturbing example of the abuse she's been receiving, in which an anonymous user graphically threatened her and tweeted both her address and her parents' address:
I usually don’t share the really scary stuff. But it’s important for folks to know how bad it gets [TRIGGER WARNING] pic.twitter.com/u6b3i0fysI
— Feminist Frequency (@femfreq) August 27, 2014
What happened to Anita Sarkeesian is utterly horrifying and infuriating. Even more horrifying and infuriating is the fact that treatment like this is routine for female writers and public figures. Being a woman with a platform and an opinion means that you inevitably have to face harassment, threats and vitriol from anonymous trolls. It comes with the territory. I am never shocked when I hear that an outspoken woman has been threatened with rape or murder. I am never shocked when I see hateful or graphic images of an outspoken woman circulating on Twitter. I am never shocked when an outspoken woman's personal information — her address, her phone number — is published or disseminated. For women on the Internet, violent, virulent misogyny is an unexceptional occurrence.
Something needs to change. Sadly, as we've been saying this for years now that seems unlikely to occur in the near future.
Image via YouTube.