Anita Sarkeesian, the woman behind a fantastic web series critiquing misogyny in video games, released another video this week. Funded as a Kickstarter project, Sarkeesian's "Tropes vs. Women in Video Games" series is an accessible but scholarly look at video games through a feminist lens, in which Sarkeesian breaks down a bunch of common female stereotypes in games and explains how to spot them and why they're harmful, with tons of examples (including examples of games that do better).
This week's video: "Women as Background Decoration, Part 2." You should really check it out:
You may recall that when she first launched her Kickstarter project, which was wildly successful—she raised almost $160,000 after an initial ask of just $6,000 and has expanded the series based on that funding—she faced an onslaught of threats of rape and other violence from video gamers, who were apparently incensed that anyone could be critical of the medium. (Someone even created a video game about beating her.) It seems like every time she releases a video, a wave of hateful commentary follows, often peppered with threats—that seems like the norm for her experience on the internet. But this Tuesday night, she tweeted that some "very scary threats" had been made against her and her family, threats scary enough that she said she'd contacted authorities. Then she updated that she was safe but staying with friends; apparently those threats were scary enough to drive her from her home.
Then yesterday, she posted this:
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
If you can't read it, those are tweets from a since-closed account that detail a bunch of grisly rape and murder threats toward Sarkeesian, her co-writer on the series, and even her parents, with censored parts that appear to possibly be her home address and perhaps her parents' names and/or address.
So, to recap: When she first started fundraising for a project analyzing misogyny in video games, a dude created a video game all about beating her in the face. And among what seems to be a near-constant flurry of awful harassment and threats, this most recent incident looks like someone responding to her video on sexualized violence against women in video games with repeated and specific threats to brutally rape and murder her and her friends and family.
Obviously, it's totally unacceptable to threaten people on the internet (or anywhere else). If the point was simply to terrify a stranger with whom they disagree, the trolls probably won this round. But if anyone was hoping to demonstrate that video games are not part of a misogynistic culture that steeps women in fear and objectification and sexualization and threatens them with violence for stepping out of line—well, IT LOOKS LIKE YOU ABSOLUTELY FAILED.
If for no other reason than some insanely creepy jerkoffs on the internet don't want you to: You should go watch her videos. They're enlightening, entertaining, and they do not one single time say that no one should play video games or that all games are bad. They're simply the kind of grown-up criticism that any medium starts to get as it gains purchase in a culture—a milestone these creeps, if they actually like video games, should've been celebrating all along.