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In defence of freedom of speech

SERIES: FROM THE HETPAT ARCHIVES

First published June 18th 2012

 

I am not the most dedicated gamer of my generation. I never owned a Pong machine or a Gameboy, a ZX Spectrum or a SNES. I’ve never played Grand Theft Auto, Tomb Raider or Final Fantasy. My only engagement with an XBox is the occasional attempt to prise my 10 year old son away from Minecraft, an experience roughly akin to dragging a hippie raver out of a K-hole. The closest I’ve come to pixellated sexual violence against women has been blasting a red shell up Princess Peach’s exhaust pipe on MarioKart.

So I don’t have much in the way of informed opinions about misogyny in video games, I’ll leave that to others. Nonetheless I couldn’t help but be sucked in by the debate surrounding Kickstarter Anita Sarkeesian, as good an illustration as we’ll ever need of the vitriol of the new gender wars. An intense storm of hatred was roused by her modest idea to crowd-fund research into sexism in the games industry. The many thousands of hostile comments posted on Sarkeesian’s YouTube video were of course heavily gendered and sexualised, but so too was some of the retaliation – notably Charlie Brooker’s description of the mob as “idiotic pebbledicks” who are terrified of women.

If one of the worst offences committed by sexists and anti-feminists online is to reduce women and their opinions to their genitalia and sexual worth, I’m not sure how the cause is helped by turning the precise same missiles around and hurling them back in the other direction – however deserving of mockery and disgust the targets might be.  Without doubt, the hate-fest directed at Sarkeesian was repellent and indefensible. It was a display of the madness of crowds which would have come as no surprise to Mackay or Le Bon (Gustave, that is, not Simon.) There were a few sane voices raised in defence of the gaming culture, and a few reasonable points made about creative freedom and the demands of the free market. But such comments were few and far between, and lost in a swamp of ugly abuse.

In all the online articles and commentary that appeared, a point recurred that this phenomenon is an inevitable price of freedom. If we grant free expression, we also grant freedom to abuse, insult and offend. It’s a seductive argument, with a lot of merit. Offence is indeed in the eye of the beholder, and there has never been an opinion of value which didn’t cause offence to someone. But just as my right to swing my fist ends where it meets your right to not be punched in the face, so my right to freedom of speech does not extend to the point where it silences others.

Let there be no doubt, the hate campaign waged against Anita Sarkeesian was a concerted attempt to silence her voice, using intimidation and psychological warfare. The misogyny expressed may have been rooted deep in the personalities of her antagonists, but in most cases I doubt it. Instead I suspect it was instrumental, using vocabulary consciously chosen to wound as deeply as possible, and aimed at the (assumed) weak points of a woman and a feminist.

The use of hate speech, threats and bullying to terrify and intimidate people into silence or away from certain topics is a far bigger threat to free speech than any legal sanction.

Imagine this is not the internet but a public square. One woman stands on a soapbox and expresses an idea. She is instantly surrounded by an army of 5,000 angry people yelling the worst kind of abuse at her in an attempt to shut her up. Yes, there’s a free speech issue there. But possibly not the one you think.

This boot can sometimes be on the other foot. While there is no direct symmetry, we have seen the same principle at play in the concerted attempts of some feminists (mostly, but not entirely historic) to stifle debate about male victims and female perpetrators of domestic violence, with activists, writers and academics being branded misogynists and abusers for even raising the issues. Anyone who dares to raise a sceptical voice in many feminist blog spaces can expect more aggression and abuse than reasoned debate. The urge to silence opponents is probably a human one, and for that reason it is all the more important we are conscious of it in ourselves and wary of it in others.

Those who participate in online hate campaigns are not the champions of freedom of speech, but its worst enemies. If they consider themselves libertarians, they are a disgrace to the label. It is not easy to see the solution. Censorship is never the answer, far too many babies go out with the filthy bathwater. Nor do I want to see our prisons filled with hot-headed flamers and trolls.

All we can do is be wise to the nature of these online flame wars, and be prepared to challenge abusive, insulting, silencing behaviour wherever it emerges; be prepared to confront bullies and mob mentality wherever they arise.

We can do that by questioning what they pack in their politics, not what they pack in their pants.

Comments

  1. says

    We have a golden rule when engaging online
    and that is to attack ideas and not individuals
    and now so long as that is then accepted fine
    No idea or ideology is that sacred that it must
    not be critically examined as that is essential
    and absolutely so too for a liberal democracy
    Now hate speech is unacceptable but it must
    be allowed for otherwise one has to then ask
    where the line is drawn and who decides too

  2. Woo_Monster, Sniffer of Starfarts says

    While there is no direct symmetry, we have seen the same principle at play in the concerted attempts of some feminists (mostly, but not entirely historic) to stifle debate about male victims and female perpetrators of domestic violence, with activists, writers and academics being branded misogynists and abusers for even raising the issues.

    1) I think you need to emphasize the bolded part more. The lack of symmetry and power imbalance is important.

    2) Others have made this point in some/one of your previous threads, but it would be helpful if you wrote in the active voice and identified which feminists/feminist groups are doing these things.

    3) Here, when you say “mostly, but not entirely historic”, you are speaking about problems with past feminism. In the very next sentence,

    Anyone who dares to raise a sceptical voice in many feminist blog spaces can expect more aggression and abuse than reasoned debate.

    you seem to switch tenses and are making assertions about present day feminists (and again, who, are you specifically talking about and not talking about).

    Also, I’ve heard this last complaint from MRAs so many times that it is hard not to hear it as a dog whistle.

  3. Woo_Monster, Sniffer of Starfarts says

    I tried to do snark-free, but I can’t resist.

    Anyone who dares to raise a sceptical voice in many feminist blog spaces can expect more aggression and abuse than reasoned debate.

    Onward Braveheroes! Muster the courage and bravado to voice reasonable criticisms to feminists. Do not fear the unreasonable, abusive backlash that those scary feminists will surely unleash upon you. Dare to speak up against those oppressive feminists.

  4. dantalion says

    It is possible to censure without censoring. Any actual law restricting speech would be an infringement of free speech (and thus never a good idea). But we do not need to make any statement illegal to agree that certain statements or behaviors deserve shunning.

  5. AndrewV69, Visiting MRA, Purveyor of Piffle & Woo says

    Your basic premise is wrong.

    Anita Sarkeesian has an Encyclopedia Dramatica(1) entry, and that is a clear indication that she was targeted by 4chan(2) for the “lulz”.

    It was also pretty clear there was overlap with “Gamer culture”. As a gamer myself I can tell you that insults are par for the course and are designed to rattle you so that your opponent can score and laugh at you. The more over the top the better.

    One common argument is that Anita knew exactly what she was doing by not allowing comments elsewhere but only where any prospective backer could see them. And that is all there is to it. You have all been had. Except for Anita.

    YMMV

    1). _http://encyclopediadramatica.se/Feminist_Frequency#4Chan_Drama
    2). _http://boards.4chan.org/b/

  6. Gjenganger says

    Well, I agree that this kind of deliberate intimidation to silence people is reprehensible. But it is part of the story that the progressive side has a long record of trying to silence their opponents and force them out of mainstream debate. Nonviolently, but quite successfully. Anita Sarkeesians research project was – fairly obviously – designed to gather ammunition for a campaign to force games to change and squeeze out expressions that Sarkeesian did not like. In short, to control the games that other people are able to play. And so the gamers, who did not look forward to Sarkeesians changes, decided to get their retaliation in first. There is lots of campaigning aimed at outlawing (‘the wrong kinds of’) pornography, or defining misogyny as hate speech, forcing it off Facebook, etc. And recent political history suggests that this kind of campaign has quite good chances of success. Maybe people are be turning to mobbing for the same reason as escalation happen in wars: they see that as long as they play by the enemy’s rules, they will inevitably lose.

    So, unlike your right to freedom of speech, does your right to political activism extend to the point where it silences others? And where does that leave the people looking to be silenced?

  7. Ally Fogg says

    1) I think you need to emphasize the bolded part more. The lack of symmetry and power imbalance is important.

    Well I devoted pretty much an entire article to savage and abusive attacks on feminists, and a few sentences to acknowledging that the reverse can occasionally apply.

    2) Others have made this point in some/one of your previous threads, but it would be helpful if you wrote in the active voice and identified which feminists/feminist groups are doing these things.

    With all due respect, no, I won’t.

    On some occasions I have a specific disagreement with something a specific person has said, and I’ll name them, link to the piece and disagree with them. On other occasions I’m talking about general trends and common occurrences. I could link to examples, but that would turn a general point into a specific argument, which I have no wish to do.

    If you want to claim that it is untrue that people who raise sceptical dissent on feminist sites can often expect an angry and abusive response, then fair enough, I’ll link you to as many examples as you’d need, but in all honesty I’d rather not because it would be quite time-consuming and I have got no particular desire to spend my evening trawling through internet arguments to make a point.

    3) Here, when you say “mostly, but not entirely historic”, you are speaking about problems with past feminism. In the very next sentence you seem to switch tenses and are making assertions about present day feminists (and again, who, are you specifically talking about and not talking about).

    No, as my words quite clearly state, in the first point I was talking about past AND present feminists, although acknowledging that things have moved on a bit. In the second I was talking about present AND past feminists, slightly changed emphasis, perhaps.

    Also, I’ve heard this last complaint from MRAs so many times that it is hard not to hear it as a dog whistle.

    Have to say, your reactions here are actually a pretty good illustration of my point. This isn’t even an explicitly feminist blog (although feminists are very welcome) and yet at the first whiff of perceived criticism of feminism you firstly accuse me of dog-whistling for MRAs and then (in the post below) employ some pretty vicious sarcasm and attempts at shaming, which I can only read as an attempt to stifle such criticism in future.

  8. Ally Fogg says

    But that pretty much confirms what I say, that the misogyny wasn’t necessarily driven by deep underlying personal prejudice and was instrumental – designed to produce a particular effect.

    The conspiracy theory that Sarkeesian deliberately stoked the reaction in order to make money for her project is, frankly, one of the biggest chunks of utterly fuckwitted idiocy on the whole of the internet. And I’ve read David Icke.

    And yes, ‘gamer culture’ is one of the foulest springs of misogyny on the internet. This is not news, and I’m not entirely sure that it is any kind of point?

  9. Ally Fogg says

    Anita Sarkeesians research project was – fairly obviously – designed to gather ammunition for a campaign to force games to change and squeeze out expressions that Sarkeesian did not like. In short, to control the games that other people are able to play.

    I don’t buy this. In fact I’ll go further, it is bollocks. There’s a huge leap from knowing that AS wanted to produce some videos analysing sexist tropes in video games to believing she was going to somehow orchestrate a global censorship banhammer on Lara Croft.

    I think all this kind of thing, see also the post from Andrew V69 above, comes down to retrospective justifications for the unjustifiable. And a lot of it sounds a lot like:

    “She was asking for it…”
    “She deserved it…”
    “She probably enjoyed it…”

  10. LeftSidePositive says

    Yeah–how dare she try to affect social change by…uh…making a reasoned argument, educating people, and changing hearts and minds! It’s the old “you’re trying to silence me by being right when I’m not!!”

    No one “forced” others to stop joining whites-only country clubs. We simply convinced the vast majority of people that they shouldn’t want to. Again, sorry to be right–it’s soooo oppressive of us!

    Also, please draw a distinction between “criticizing” and “outlawing.”

    Moreover, Facebook itself is a private entity, not a government. They themselves have chosen to define terms of service and they themselves chose not to allow objectionable content. There’s nothing wrong with presenting arguments and raising awareness that their standards are being applied inconsistently. There’s nothing wrong with a private entity deciding what kind of speech it will and will not host on its servers. There’s nothing wrong with presenting an argument that a private entity would be more successful and more inclusive and a better contributor to our society if they adopted certain policies. They are still free to adopt or reject those policies as they see fit (and we’re free to buy or not buy their services).

  11. Ulysses says

    One thing a lot of defenders of freedom of speech forget is their opponents also have freedom of speech. Too many people think that freedom of speech means freedom from criticism. If someone exercises their freedom of speech to say something wrong or silly or hateful, then someone else can exercise their freedom of speech by pointing out the wrongness, silliness or hatred.

  12. LeftSidePositive says

    Yeah, of course, because it’s SOOO TOTALLY WRONG for the wimminz to be angry or defend themselves when someone is “sceptical” of their rights to equality. Saying “fuck off” is sooo abusive!! And I totally believe that he really looked for reasoned debate instead of just catching the vapours the first time someone told his vaunted maleness to fuck off! It’s the wimminz obligation to reasonably debate a question that amounts to a gender-theory equivalent of “so why are there still monkeys?!” for the billionth time, because our brave author is a man and deserves it! And we can be totally sure that these people denigrating male victims of abuse are really doing that, and not just trying to underail That Guy who comes onto every post about women getting raped and abused and saying “What about the menz!!” And we can be even more sure that he characterized these things correctly, because he helpfully provided examples about what he was talking about…oh, wait….

    /snark.

    Seriously. Fuck this whole blog post. Even fuck the lip service to Anita’s harassment being bad. That doesn’t redeem the incredibly self-centered tone-policing going on against feminist spaces, and it CERTAINLY doesn’t excuse his cowardly inability to write about what he’s actually talking about with regard to feminist spaces, so we can actually assess whether or not he has a point or if he’s just whining that his derailing wasn’t getting where he wanted. And fuck this whole post for pretending that this vagueness doesn’t directly cater to those who trade in false equivalence (oooh–lookey there! A link to what I’m talking about! See, was that so hard?!). Fuck the total lack of understanding that intent is not magic, and that even if he didn’t INTEND to validate a classic MRA trope, that’s still exactly what he did. Fuck this post for thinking that a discussion of an actual woman actually being harassed needs to have some “balance” with a vague discussion of men vaguely being silenced (and no evidence whatsoever that they’re not just being criticized!).

    Just plain fuck.

  13. Ulysses says

    Hopefully you’re aware that Encyclopedia Dramatica is specifically operated as a trolling site. Jullian Dibbell, in an article in Wired, describes Encycylopedia Dramatica thusly:

    Study the pages of the Encyclopedia Dramatica wiki, where the vast parallel universe of Anonymous in-jokes, catchphrases, and obsessions is lovingly annotated, and you will discover an elaborate trolling culture: Flamingly racist and misogynist content lurks throughout, all of it calculated to offend, along with links to eye-gougingly horrific images of mutilation, sexual perversity, and, yes, kittens in blenders.

  14. LeftSidePositive says

    Ally, what you’re saying is total nonsense. There would be NO impetus for “instrumental” sexism if they weren’t first moved by personal prejudice to hate the fact that she was a woman with an opinion. Men generally don’t get that level of harassment in the first place, regardless of the means used.

  15. LeftSidePositive says

    Soo, Andrew–you’re saying Anita is so evil and manipulative because she showed people the harassment she was getting?! Do you even hear yourself? If someone cunningly sets their youtube comments open…and no one harasses them, what point would they prove? This still requires people to be horrible and to harass her, thereby proving her right. She’s not evil and manipulative for learning from her past experiences and shining a spotlight on all the horrible things that people say about her. Just leaving the forum open didn’t MAKE them say horrible things–that desire was there well, well before.

  16. Ally Fogg says

    LeftSidePositive at 5.3

    I think it would be more accurate to say they hate that she’s a woman with those particular opinions.

    It’s an interesting question whether you would get closer to that level of hate if she’s been a woman expressing a completely different opinion (eg, that cats are better than dogs) or if she had been a man / male feminist running the exact same kickstarter about sexism in video games?

    I guess we’d both agree that neither case would have generated the same levels of vitriol, so yes, simple misogyny is very much part of the equation. And of course the fact that she was wanting to challenge their inalienable male rights to be a sexist dick was the major factor. But I do think that a man proposing the same kickstarter could also have come in for some pretty severe abuse – although of course the precise nature of the abuse would be different, and gendered in different ways.

    I still think there was a large element of brainless trolling and button-pushing at play. But I wouldn’t disagree for a moment that you would need a pretty unhealthy level of misogyny in order to come up with the types of vile and abusive messages etc they did.

  17. LeftSidePositive says

    Well, I think we can get a pretty good approximation of that by looking at the amount of hate Rebecca Watson gets vs. PZ Myers. Every male feminist I’ve read who has touched on the subject acknowledges that the pushback they get for talking about feminism is nothing compared to the pushback women get. And, yes, women on the Internet in non-political fields get plenty of sexual harassment. So I’m inclined to say that gender is an independent risk factor for abuse from politics, and I will further suggest that there’s an interaction effect between the two.

  18. Ally Fogg says

    Yeah, I wouldn’t disagree with any of that. In is the interaction, of which outright misogyny is a definite part

  19. johngreg says

    Ally, like you, I am not a gaming expert (though I do play a few games), and neither am I an expert on the Sarkeesian issue. However, I have observed bits and pieces of the ongoing argument, and would like to make some comments anyway. I’m sure if I am factually wrong, the ever-eloquent and academically rigorous LeftSidePositive will set me straight.

    Ally, you say “An intense storm of hatred was roused by her modest idea to crowd-fund research into sexism in the games industry.” I think that is not really an accurate reflection of what caused the shitstorm of hate. It is more complex than that. Yes, the initial idea may have been modest, but the fact remains that the following issues (some of which relate to to issues you have duscussed in other posts) also come into play:

    1. Her claims of sexism in games became fuddled by the simple fact that most of the games in question with, of course, the exception of purely “monster”-based games, are fundamentally predicated on the process of killing almost exclusively men by the hundreds, even thousands. So the perception is (and I do not see how this can be avoided, especially in view of Sarkeesian’s language and how she frames her claims), that while it is perfectly fine and fun to kill men by the hundreds in a game — ’cause it’s just a game — it is utmost evil to call women bad names or to have the female characters wear dumb but skimpy-sexy clothing.

    2. Many, many poeple feel that there was some degree of fraud involved in that Sarkeesian received vastly, hugely more funds than she stated would be required, and simply did not and has not delivered anywhere near an equivalent degree of return.

    3. It appears that she tailored the debate, through manipulation of commentary and other forms of media control, to stir up false controversy and specifically to skew the issue to garner more dosh.

    So, particularily in regard to item 1, it becomes not only problematical but somewhat ludicrous to accept someone’s high dudgeon over the evilness of sexy costumes, or the use of so-called sexist language, while giving a totaly free pass to, in gameland, the mass murder of a single gender in a manipulatively and possibly fraudulently structured ongoing dialogue and media stream designed to financially benefit one individual who is without, so far as I know, any sort of legitimate credential, experience, or other valid background to do what she claims to want to do, and upon which she has yet to deliver equal to her unearned funding.

    Ultimately, indeed, much of the rage against Sarkeesian appears sexist, but I think it is pretty important to understand the source of that mess — idiot young boys whose entire online lives are predicated on insulting, in the worst way possible, anyone, male or female, who they perceive as getting in their way (so to speak), combined with Sarkeesian’s methodology of presenting her argument and sourcing her funds.

    Bottom line, I think the whole things is a mess on all sides, and cannot not be analyzed effectively within the limited constraints of something like a blog. I think it would take something like a bloody Master’s thesis to sort out this mess.

    You also say, “Without doubt, the hate-fest directed at Sarkeesian was repellent and indefensible. It was a display of the madness of crowds”. Indeed.

    You also, also, say, “The use of hate speech, threats and bullying to terrify and intimidate people into silence or away from certain topics is a far bigger threat to free speech than any legal sanction.”

    I could not agree more.

  20. Ally Fogg says

    1. Her claims of sexism in games became fuddled…

    So? Someone proposes a kick-starter which you think has a flawed premise. Is your first step:

    1. To ignore it
    2. To laugh at it
    3. Propose your own kickstarter to make an alternative set of videos highlighting the disposability of male life in videogames
    4. To issue death threats, rape threats and participate in a mass online hate-campaign, photoshop her face into a bruised and bloody pulp, fake pornography with her face photoshopped on to maximise her degradation and humiliation etc etc etc?

    If it is 1 or 2, your reaction is reasonable. If it is 3 it is admirable. If it is 4, you have a big fucking problem.

    2. Many, many poeple feel that there was some degree of fraud involved in that Sarkeesian received vastly, hugely more funds than she stated would be required, and simply did not and has not delivered anywhere near an equivalent degree of return.

    Oh come on. WHY did she receive vastly more money than she originally asked for? Precisely BECAUSE she had already been subjected to so much grotesque abuse. All this tells me is that you (or the people whose opinions you are expressing) are bitter and pissed off because their grotesque hate campaign backfired so spectacularly.

    3. It appears that she tailored the debate, through manipulation of commentary and other forms of media control, to stir up false controversy and specifically to skew the issue to garner more dosh.

    Maybe she did. I don’t know and don’t care. Because the fact remains that if she hadn’t been subject to the mountain of hateful abuse in the first place, she would have had no story to manipulate. In my opinion, if she did use what happened to her advantage in the aftermath, then good luck to her. An eminently sensible thing to do.

    Bottom line, I think the whole things is a mess on all sides, and cannot not be analyzed effectively within the limited constraints of something like a blog. I think it would take something like a bloody Master’s thesis to sort out this mess.

    No it really, really wouldn’t. All it would take is acceptance that it is never acceptable to hate-bomb people with a mass campaign of threatening, degrading and violent messages, and that any attempt to excuse or justify such hate-bombing is pretty much as bad.

    Quite simple really.

  21. gilgamesh says

    johngreg, on your second point: What the flipping hell are you talking about? She put up a Kickstarter, people gave her money, she’s producing videos which is what she promised to do. Did you give her money? If so, have you asked for it back? Are the people who gave her money complaining that they haven’t gotten what they expected?
    The people who are complaining that she’s somehow committed fraud seem to have some sort of imaginary timeline in their heads as to when she should have her videos produced, or the production values or something that exists nowhere but in the confines of their own heads. Research and production take time. I assume the people that gave her money were familiar with her work, and were expecting something along the lines of her previous work with Feminist Frequency, and having watched her first video I think she’s delivered and will probably continue to do so.
    The people who accused her of fraud were trolls, plain and simple. There is no “both sides” to this nonsense, there really isn’t. A feminist writer with a known track record of analyzing media raised funds to do a video series on video games. That’s the extent of the “provocation” of the gaming community. Saying she somehow caused the avalanche of abuse by simply announcing she was turning her attention on games is absurd.

    “Ultimately, indeed, much of the rage against Sarkeesian appears sexist, but I think it is pretty important to understand the source of that mess — idiot young boys whose entire online lives are predicated on insulting, in the worst way possible, anyone, male or female, who they perceive as getting in their way (so to speak), combined with Sarkeesian’s methodology of presenting her argument and sourcing her funds.”

    Bull. The average gamer is not a 14 year old boy living in his parent’s basement. That’s an outdated stereotype that is used to grant absolution to gamers by minimizing the crap they sling at people, women in particular. “Oh, they’re just maladjusted children! It doesn’t mean anything because they’re sad little boys!”
    They’re grown men. They hold jobs, they have families, and they hate women who try to invade their space. Look at the whole “fake geek girl” nonsense recently. They guy who kicked that off was a respected comic artist and a grown ass man with a wife and kids.

    Argh, I’m ranting, but I’m tired, so very tired of the bullshit smoke screen of “both sides do it and besides she invited the abuse! She MADE them act that way by being provocative! She MADE them!”

    No, she didn’t. She did not use vaginomancy over the internet to make them act like that. They have to own the shit they did, don’t excuse it.

  22. Woo_Monster, Sniffer of Starfarts says

    I could link to examples, but that would turn a general point into a specific argument, which I have no wish to do.

    It would turn your unevidenced general point into a specific argument, yes.

    If you want to claim that it is untrue that people who raise sceptical dissent on feminist sites…

    You are the one making the claim, you substantiate it.

    …I’ll link you to as many examples as you’d need,…

    Indeed, linking to examples is what I, or anyone, would need in order to evaluate your claims.

    …but in all honesty I’d rather not because it would be quite time-consuming and I have got no particular desire to spend my evening trawling through internet arguments to make a point.

    No, you already did make your point. You are saying that you don’t have the desire to support it. That’s fine, I guess. Where is Nerd when you need him*?

    Have to say, your reactions here are actually a pretty good illustration of my point.

    My sarcasm illustrates your point? I have “branded [you] a misogynist and abuser for even raising the issues”? This is what you perceive as “aggression and abuse”?

    yet at the first whiff of perceived criticism of feminism you firstly accuse me of dog-whistling for MRAs…

    Not so much the whiff of criticism of feminism per se, but of unevidenced generalizations about unnamed feminist blogs.

    …and then (in the post below) employ some pretty vicious sarcasm and attempts at shaming, which I can only read as an attempt to stifle such criticism in future.

    I’m trying to understand your criticism, not stifle it. It is a difficult task because you refuse to be get specific about who you are talking about or bust out the linkys. And yeah, my sarcasm was shaming, I suppose. Because this vague and unqualified claim, “anyone who dares to raise a sceptical voice in many feminist blog spaces can expect more aggression and abuse than reasoned debate”, perpetuates negative anti-feminist stereotypes, is harmful to people, and is thus shameful to assert.

    *FLOOSH* (Nerd’s favorite phrase, “that which can be asserted without evidence…”)

    ***

    I do not doubt there are some solid examples of what you are talking about. I’m not sure if you follow Pharyngula or not, I won’t presume that you do, but over there there was recently a post about a sexist facebook page being taken over by a group of feminists, who did proceed to shout down criticism of their transphobic views. My asking you to be clear about who you are criticizing is not an attempt at some gotcha.

  23. johngreg says

    a. Someone proposes a kick-starter which you think has a flawed premise. Is your first step:

    My first step was to ignore it. I felt it was flawed and disingenuous, so I ignored it.

    I was simply trying to point out what I think some of the reasons for the extreme backlash may have been. I was not defending that backlash, in fact, I agreed it was terrible.

    b. WHY did she receive vastly more money than she originally asked for….

    I have no grotesque hate campaign running. Again, I was simply trying to argue some possible reasons, in my opinion, why there might have been such a hateful backlash. Not supporting that backlash; not justifying it.

    c. Maybe she did. I don’t know and don’t care.

    So you feel that if she did falsely manipulate the argument, based on perhaps emotional rather than logical principles, that’s OK? Honesty and integrity? When asking for financial support from strangers? Doesn’t matter?

    d. All it would take is acceptance that it is never acceptable to hate-bomb people with a mass campaign of threatening, degrading and violent messages, and that any attempt to excuse or justify such hate-bombing is pretty much as bad.

    Ally, I am not trying to justify it nor excuse it — surely you are not making the elemental error of confusing justify and excuse with try to explain; I am trying to posit some possible reasons for it, beyond the kneejerk Hateful Sexism response, such as my perception that many of these hateful messages may have come from kids whose sole online existence is hateful messages directed to anyone, male, female, alien, whatever, and who will use the easiest, most available hostility, which is often gender-based.

    Ally, especially in points b. and c., you seem to me to be saying that the reason Sarkeesian launched her project for research, and the main reason she was so successful in acquiring funds for it, was because she received so much negative backlash for launching the campaign. I am confused: egg/chicken … chicken/egg?

    e. Quite simple really.

    Nothing, anywhere, is that simple, especially these kinds of socio-political phenomena.

    I think I have seriously misstated my points; however, perhaps you have misread and misinterpreted them.

  24. AndrewV69, Visiting MRA, Purveyor of Piffle & Woo says

    9.
    They’re grown men. They hold jobs, they have families, and they hate women who try to invade their space.

    The question is why? Unfortunately I have yet to see a satisfactory one (one that is not based on an ideology).

  25. AndrewV69, Visiting MRA, Purveyor of Piffle & Woo says

    5.4
    LeftSidePositive

    May 25, 2013 at 7:02 pm (UTC 0) Link to this comment

    Soo, Andrew–you’re saying Anita is so evil and manipulative because she showed people the harassment she was getting?!

    You just reframed my words into something I never said.

    Floosh! Dismissed.

  26. LeftSidePositive says

    How is that in any substantive way different from what you said?

    One common argument is that Anita knew exactly what she was doing by not allowing comments elsewhere but only where any prospective backer could see them. And that is all there is to it. You have all been had. Except for Anita.

    You’re seriously telling me that “You’ve all been had. Except for Anita” doesn’t state that you think she’s being manipulative? You seriously expect me to believe that you didn’t bring up her decision to show the harassment to her potential backers as a reason why she’s untrustworthy?

    Fucking bullshit.

  27. Ally Fogg says

    I do not doubt there are some solid examples of what you are talking about.

    Good. If it helps, I’ve seen examples of the kind of thing I’m talking about on Feministe, Feministing, Jezebel, Mumsnet, the F-Word and numerous standalone blogs.

    I’m not saying it happens every time. I am saying it happens often enough that any man who feels inclined to critique feminist ideas on a feminist site could reasonably expect it to happen.

    I’d also ask you to bear in mind the sentence after. Pretty much all of us get frustrated and angry at people with whom we have profound disagreements, and that frustration and anger can spill over into unacceptable abuse. I’ve certainly been guilty of it at times. Many feminists have been guilty of it at times.

    But what should have come over from this post is that I do agree that the habits of the broad ‘manosphere’ as it’s known, against targets like Sarkeesian and also Rebecca Watson and other feminist skeptics, is of a different order of magnitude, ferocity and general douchebaggery to any other examples I’m aware of.

  28. mattisironen says

    The most wrong thing one can take from the whole debacle about Anita Sarkeesian’s kickstarter is that “she’s getting a lot of pushback therefore she is RIGHT”. Granted, the sexist/troll response eclipse all the reasonable response by the hundredfold at the very least, but there are some very researched critiques of her (quite simplistic) critique as well. What I find is most pertinent is that Sarkeesian’s Opus Major has actually been covered before rather more competently by entities like Extra Credits (http://www.penny-arcade.com/patv/show/extra-credits). So basically she’s trying to cash in on something that’s been done (and much better) already.

  29. LeftSidePositive says

    So provide links or eat your words. This is total bullshit, “Ally,” and you know it. If you don’t provide links, we have no way of assessing whether or not these men are being unfairly called out, or if they themselves are minimizing and insensitive without realizing it. And, given your “You’re doing it too!!” routine to Woo_Monster, I’m not at all inclined to trust your judgment on these matters. It is also highly irresponsible of you to state this in a post about silencing and freedom of speech, because “you’re wrong and you’re being hurtful” or even “fuck off I don’t want to deal with your bullshit anymore” is NOWHERE in the same category as using threats and intimidation, and you frankly ought to be ashamed of yourself for bringing it up. Furthermore, who the fuck are you to decide what is or isn’t acceptable for how people from a marginalized identity assert themselves? Are you seriously telling me you can’t tell the difference between “fuck off, asshole!” and “I hope you get raped, c**t!”?! Can you honestly not tell the difference between invective and slurs?! Are you further unaware that the VAST majority of men who enter a feminist space are going to have some knowledge deficits and are probably going to say something privilege-denying (because that’s how they were socialized), and so instead of acting like Feminists are going to abuse him, you could give him advice on how to spot his own privileged behavior, and how to acknowledge gracefully if he hurt anyone and learn from the experience?

    You’re falling far short of your ‘nym, “Ally.” In fact you’re quickly becoming Exhibit A in why people tend to be wary of self-proclaiming “allies.”

  30. Schala says

    I’m not saying it happens every time. I am saying it happens often enough that any man who feels inclined to critique feminist ideas on a feminist site could reasonably expect it to happen.

    Any woman as well, though the problems from it will be milder. A trans woman stands in the middle, not “as bad” as a man, but worse than a cis woman, if critiquing feminism central doctrine (ie not pro/anti sex points of contentions), including the notion that DV is a gendered primarily-85%+ male-on-female crime, with virtually no female perpetrator. Even worse with rape, where anything contradicting that 98-99% of rapists are men is met with condescension (the truth is more along 60% of non-prison rape with a male perpetrator).

  31. Schala says

    Are you further unaware that the VAST majority of men who enter a feminist space are going to have some knowledge deficits and are probably going to say something privilege-denying

    So will feminist women. And in fact, using their majority privilege and sympathy privilege on the topic of gender issues, will be able to claim “I win” using only emotional arguments. No logic needed. Just claim women are the most victims of war and it will be so. Even if reality disagrees. Because people in general (both men and women) are indoctrinated to value women’s lives higher than men’s (also for childhood).

    Female privilege is so denied, there’s an entire site called Finally Feminism 101 there to say IT CANNOT POSSIBLY EXIST.

    Privilege is something you can’t see, except female privilege, feminists can see it doesn’t exist, because patriarchy.

    Pro-tip: Male privilege is ALSO caused by benevolent sexism, all of it.

  32. Thil says

    After having watched all her videos personally I think part of the reason some people dislike Anita Sarkeesian is because she comes across as somewhat judgmental and arrogant. she sometimes tells her audience directly what to think and almost always seems to take the root of blaming individual writers for perpetuating stereotypes instead of just suggesting they should be less prevalent (I think you shouldn’t do that because only the writer can know if it was truly written that way just because of the stereotype or not)

  33. Ally Fogg says

    I was simply trying to point out what I think some of the reasons for the extreme backlash may have been.

    And I was pointing out that those reasons are disingenuous, bogus and downright embarrassing.

    So you feel that if she did falsely manipulate the argument, based on perhaps emotional rather than logical principles, that’s OK? Honesty and integrity? When asking for financial support from strangers? Doesn’t matter?

    Think of it by analogy. A black man is out on the street, shaking a bucket to raise funds for a campaign against racism. A group of neo-Nazis come along and beat him up. In the aftermath, he says “You see? This is what we’re up against! Now will you give me some money?” and lots of people put lots of money in his bucket.

    I can’t see anything wrong with that. Can you?

    Or in the same analogy, if the victim of the beating had sold his story to a newspaper for tens of thousands of pounds, it would be entirely his story to sell as he sees fit, and the fact that he sold it does not make the racist beating he took any more justified and does not begin to explain it.

    Ally, especially in points b. and c., you seem to me to be saying that the reason Sarkeesian launched her project for research, and the main reason she was so successful in acquiring funds for it, was because she received so much negative backlash for launching the campaign. I am confused: egg/chicken … chicken/egg?

    Nope. I’m saying she launched her project exactly for the reasons she gave in the initial kickstarter video, because she believed there was a problem with sexism in video games.

    When the monumental hate-fest kicked in, the story took on a different significance, and she then acquired a lot more funds because of what had happened. If there had been no hate-fest there would have been no extra money.

    You can try to “explain” the hate-fest in terms of what was going through the minds of the people involved, if you like. You could attribute it to a brattish outrage that someone wanted to challenge the inalienable male right to be sexist dicks. You could attribute it to misogyny. You could attribute it to the social psychology of the mob.

    What you cannot do is attribute it to anything Sarkeesian did or said after it happened. Unless you think Sarkeesian has access to a time machine, that is literally impossible..

  34. Schala says

    And yes, ‘gamer culture’ is one of the foulest springs of misogyny on the internet. This is not news, and I’m not entirely sure that it is any kind of point?

    I think what was meant there is that gamers do not particularly target women, they target EVERYONE. If they don’t target you, it’s because you’re making yourself invisible, or not participating. Otherwise they will target you and insult any perceived flaw or weakness. Unless you go in a more mature community, where such behavior will be shunned, if not banned.

  35. Thil says

    Ally what do you think of her choice to disable commenting on all her you tube videos since this happened?

  36. Ally Fogg says

    The most wrong thing one can take from the whole debacle about Anita Sarkeesian’s kickstarter is that “she’s getting a lot of pushback therefore she is RIGHT”.

    I’d disagree. I’d say that’s the second most wrong thing one can take from the debacle.

    The MOST wrong thing would be to think that if there are any flaws in Sarkeesian’s ideas or proposal, the type of vile monstering she received was in any way justifiable or explicable.

  37. Ally Fogg says

    I think it is

    A. Entirely her business, and
    B. Entirely understandable given what happened last time.

  38. Ally Fogg says

    There are about a million people on the internet who annoy me in some way or other.

    The fact you might find someone annoying does not in any way justify rape threats and all the rest of it.

  39. Thil says

    @LeftSidePositive

    I think he’s (of she) is talking about her tendency to actively blame individual writers for using sexist tropes, instead of just suggesting they should be less prevalent over all

  40. AndrewV69, Visiting MRA, Purveyor of Piffle & Woo says

    12.
    So basically she’s trying to cash in on something that’s been done (and much better) already.

    While there is a considerable amount of criticism with this theme (also that it is a rehash of her thesis) it is still possible she will come up with something original.

  41. Ally Fogg says

    ….and? did I say otherwise?

    No, but what I find frustrating whenever I’ve discussed Sarkeesian (not just here) is how many people attempt to find explanations and/or justifications for what happened in her behaviour, her personality, her shortcomings.

    Sarkeesian was the victim of a horrible hate campaign, one of the worst I’ve ever seen.

    I actually see it as very similar to what happens when a woman is sexually assaulted and lots of people immediately ask what she did to bring it upon herself, what she did to provoke it, what she could have done to prevent it happening – all of which are completely the wrong questions.

    We should be asking about the behaviour, the personality, the shortcomings of the thousands of people who joined in the abuse, the threats and the hatemongering – because they are where the problem lies.

    The bottom line, as I said earlier, is that NOTHING could justify what happened to Sarkeesian, and any attempt to explain what happened in terms of HER behaviour instead of THEIR behaviour is woefully and desperately ill-aimed.

  42. Thil says

    I think that the comments are a place to judge and reply to what you’ve just seen/read. I think that is she had them abled in the first place she must have thought that was a good thing to able to do. I think that unless her experience changed her view on all comments not just insulting ones (which is possible but I don’t see why she would think that) and there is no way to only block offensive commentators, then the only reasonable options are to either stop making videos or just put up with it.

  43. mattisironen says

    “I’d disagree. I’d say that’s the second most wrong thing one can take from the debacle.”

    That’s exactly true; the amount of pushback she’s gotten is in no way proof that she’s wrong, either. That would be a horrible heuristic, indeed.

  44. Pitchguest says

    So? Someone proposes a kick-starter which you think has a flawed premise. Is your first step:

    1. To ignore it
    2. To laugh at it
    3. Propose your own kickstarter to make an alternative set of videos highlighting the disposability of male life in videogames
    4. To issue death threats, rape threats and participate in a mass online hate-campaign, photoshop her face into a bruised and bloody pulp, fake pornography with her face photoshopped on to maximise her degradation and humiliation etc etc etc?

    If it is 1 or 2, your reaction is reasonable. If it is 3 it is admirable. If it is 4, you have a big fucking problem.

    John has his own hypothesis to what might have garnered Anita that much abuse, and you cut his argument short to proceed into a kind of gish gallop. That’s neither particularly fair nor courteous. Was he even suggesting or otherwise attempting to justify example number 4? Christ.

    Oh come on. WHY did she receive vastly more money than she originally asked for? Precisely BECAUSE she had already been subjected to so much grotesque abuse. All this tells me is that you (or the people whose opinions you are expressing) are bitter and pissed off because their grotesque hate campaign backfired so spectacularly.

    Maybe she did. I don’t know and don’t care. Because the fact remains that if she hadn’t been subject to the mountain of hateful abuse in the first place, she would have had no story to manipulate. In my opinion, if she did use what happened to her advantage in the aftermath, then good luck to her. An eminently sensible thing to do.

    I’m going to answer these two together, because they’re linked. What this tells me, Ally, is that you don’t have all the cards on the table. Let me guess: you didn’t know about Anita Sarkeesian before her Kickstarter, am I right? Because if you did, you would be aware of her comment policy on YouTube: no comments allowed and ratings disabled on all of her videos. No exceptions. Except… except the video about her Kickstarter. From here, she cherrypicked the comments that she knew would inevitably arrive (from trolls) and promptly posted it on her Kickstarter page, detailing her “harassment.” Act the helpless victim and boom, instant profit.

    Additionally, if you knew of her before her stint on Kickstarter, you would be painfully aware of her attempts to analyze sexism in videogames but being exceedingly incompetent at it. Often she looks at situations in games that appear to be sexist (but aren’t) in black and white, that it couldn’t possibly not to be sexist, women wearing revealing outfits is always sexist and so on and so on. She doesn’t make the effort to look past the surface, she doesn’t make the effort to research her material, it’s all purely superficial and bland.

    Her most infamous example of this is her review of the game Bayonetta where it becomes obvious she has A) not played the game, B) not made the research and C) not even tried. She eventually deleted the video, most likely because it was the video where it most showed how incompetent she really is. After several of these videos missing the mark, it’s not a surprise she’d get detractors who criticise her methods, especially if she markets herself as a pioneer to be one of the first to examine sexism in videogames. (She isn’t.)

    She also wasn’t a nobody prior to her Kickstarter. She was known on certain places on Reddit and 4chan, she had a page on Encyclopedia Dramatica. So the abuse didn’t come from a vaccuum. And I imagine, too, that the abuse wasn’t simply because she was a woman even though that’s the narrative being touted by Anita and her ilk.

    As for if anyone would endorse, encourage or even condone the abusive comments she received, the answer is unequivocally no. I don’t think John even tried to justify it. John, however, didn’t know much about Anita, but I do – and what he says is important. To say she received abusive comments just because she’s a woman who wished to analyse sexism in games is just terribly naive. It’s not objective, it’s not fair, it’s not balanced. Come on.

  45. johngreg says

    Ally said:

    And I was pointing out that those reasons are disingenuous, bogus and downright embarrassing.

    That’s fine. I think they may have some validity in some instances. You seem to me to be thinking rather black and white; with us/against us on this. We disagree.

    Think of it by analogy. A black man is out on the street, shaking a bucket to raise funds for a campaign against racism. A group of neo-Nazis come along and beat him up. In the aftermath, he says “You see? This is what we’re up against! Now will you give me some money?” and lots of people put lots of money in his bucket.

    OK. I think a somewhat more accurate analogy might be:

    A black man is out on the street in a known KKK and neo-Nazi neighbourhood in an otherwise comfortably egalitarian multicultural city. He’s shaking a bucket to raise funds for a campaign against racism while yelling “all you Honkies is racist muthafuckas all the time everywhere all over the world to us poor, poor, downtrodden, mistreated, innocent black folks, ’cause I say it’s so, and if you give me some money I’m gonna prove it comprehensively right quick.” A group of drunken neo-Nazis come along and beat him up. In the aftermath, he says “You see? This is what we innocent well-meaning black folk are up against absolutely everywhere we go all over the world! Now will you give me some money so I can disappear for a while, order lotsa hate tracts, then get back to you with a couple pages of proof.” And lots of people put lots of money in his bucket.

    What you cannot do is attribute it to anything Sarkeesian did or said after it happened. Unless you think Sarkeesian has access to a time machine, that is literally impossible.

    Well, yes, that was my point; that was what I thought you were doing. I freely admit I might have my timelines mixed up and confused.

    All in all, I get the sense that you are giving Sarkeesian some kind of sainthood free pass for inerrancy on this. I seem to have hit a blindered sore point, and I guess we are just going to have to disagree.

  46. Thil says

    @Ally Fogg

    people did this because an outsider to their imagined group (men who love games), criticized something they like and they couldn’t think of a reasoned argument.

    I suspect a lot of the things you say would bother people (well men anyway) more if you weren’t all northern and male.

    I don’t think the logical extension of suggesting a victim could have avoided being a victim if they acted differently, is blaming the victim. I don’t think you should avoid having a discussion about if some behaviors make victim-hood more likely, are automatically invalid or should be avoided because they could lead to victim blaming

  47. Thil says

    “i don’t think having a discussion about if some behaviors make victim-hood more likely, are automatically invalid or should be avoided because they could lead to victim blaming”

    I need to proof read more

  48. says

    I think it’s entirely understandable if Anita shut down comments. If I produced a series that got as much hatred as Anita’s, I’d probably shut down youtube comments too. In fact I’ve just installed a youtube comment-killer so I don’t have to read any of them, even by accident.

    I think that unless her experience changed her view on all comments not just insulting ones (which is possible but I don’t see why she would think that) and there is no way to only block offensive commentators, then the only reasonable options are to either stop making videos or just put up with it.

    That’s ridiculous binary thinking – it is the opposite of reasonable. “Put up with hateful abuse for the sake of Free Speech™ or stop making videos entirely”? How about using what youtube obviously considers a “reasonable option” of disabling comments – and perhaps linking to a blogpost in which the video is embedded and invite commentary there (a common occurrence and allows for moderation of spam and abuse)? If people really want to comment on a video, a couple of extra clicks shouldn’t be too much of an inconvenience.

    This shouldn’t need to be explained, but the internet isn’t a democracy and free speech isn’t an absolute right, even in actual democracies. It’s a network of privately owned and controlled spaces and speech is as free as the content producer decides it should be. If you being denied the opportunity to criticise someone on youtube is abhorrent to you, there is literally no shortage of other spaces you can use to voice your displeasure. That you’ve had one avenue of reply closed to you is not an abrogation of your personal freedom; it’s an exercise in freedom of association of the person who owns that space – as much shutting your front gate and hanging a “no hawkers” sign would be.

    A person’s reasons for excluding you (or everyone) from engaging them directly might be just or not; the fact is, however, that noone owes you or anyone else a space on their soapbox. But they can’t stop you from mounting your own. Hell, before the net, if you read something objectionable in a newspaper or saw it on TV you either had to just suck it up or write to the producer and hope they read/published your letter. Frankly I think people have been spoiled by 20 years of instant commentary on media of all kinds and so are horrified when they can’t engage in it. To that, I say: the only reasonable options are to either stop consuming media online or just put up with it.

  49. Ally Fogg says

    johngreg

    OK. I think a somewhat more accurate analogy might be:

    A black man is out on the street in a known KKK and neo-Nazi neighbourhood in an otherwise comfortably egalitarian multicultural city.

    No. That might be a fair analogy if AS had gone onto 4Chan or maybe a /r/boygamers reddit and launched her kickstarter there. She didn’t. She used her own website and the Kickstarter channel of YouTube, which is about as close to the public High Street of the Internet as it is possible to get. The only way your analogy could work is if you are claiming the entire internet is de facto the home turf and territory of rabidly misogynistic angry young men. I know a lot of rabidly misogynistic angry young men would like to believe that the entire internet is their domain and theirs alone, but fuck them, they’re wrong.

    …while yelling “all you Honkies is racist muthafuckas all the time everywhere all over the world to us poor, poor, downtrodden, mistreated, innocent black folks, ’cause I say it’s so

    And that part of your analogy would only work if her kickstarter video had said something like “… all gamers are dicktwiddling wannabe rapists who are trampling on us poor downtrodden, mistreated, innocent women.”

    She didn’t. Her video said nothing like that. It was a brief little hypothesis about the way women are typically portrayed in video games, with clips of Princess Peach etc. Again, your analogy would only work if you interpret any criticism of sexist media tropes as being a grossly discriminatory, offensive and unfair attack on men, which, frankly, is bollocks.

    All in all, I get the sense that you are giving Sarkeesian some kind of sainthood free pass for inerrancy on this. I seem to have hit a blindered sore point, and I guess we are just going to have to disagree.

    Well perhaps we are at cross purposes, because you seem to be missing my central point. I make no claims as to Sarkeesian’s “sainthood” because my entire point is that this is entirely irrelevant to what happened. She could be the most annoying, irrational, incompetent, ill-informed and ill-intentioned film-maker on the entire internet and there would still be zero justification or excuse for the type of misogynistic, threatening hate campaign to which she was subjected.

    I really struggle to understand how anyone can think otherwise.

  50. asdas says

    all you Honkies is racist muthafuckas

    You’re embarrassing. Really had to do that to breathe life into your silly analogy eh?

  51. Ally Fogg says

    I don’t think the logical extension of suggesting a victim could have avoided being a victim if they acted differently, is blaming the victim. I don’t think you should avoid having a discussion about if some behaviors make victim-hood more likely, are automatically invalid or should be avoided because they could lead to victim blaming

    But what is the logical extension of your argument? It seems to me that if someone believes that a cultural medium (such as video games) is sexist (or for that matter, racist, homophobic or whatever else) then they should not attempt to challenge that because if they do they shall reap the wrath of the sexists (or racists or homophobes or whatever)

    I appreciate you are not siding with the hate-mongers, but as soon as you begin to suggest that she might have brought it all upon herself you are effectively joining the calls for her to shut up and not complain about the consequences of her action. That’s a fairly retrograde position to take. I think the only reasonable position to take is to unreservedly condemn the abuse and harassment, without qualification.

    Incidentally

    people did this because an outsider to their imagined group (men who love games), criticized something they like and they couldn’t think of a reasoned argument

    I think this is exactly right.

  52. johngreg says

    I do not think we are at cross purposes when it comes to the foulness and wholly unnecessary vileness of many of the responses that Sarkeesian had to put up with. As to the awfulness of all that, I do not disagree with you, and I am not, in any way, shape, or form defending, justifying, or excusing all of that crap.

    I am, in a clearly incompetent way I guess, trying to explain and discuss possible reasons, as well as but other than base sexism, for those responses.

    For example, can we discuss the possibility that many of those responses, while sexist in their content, may not originate from an inherently sexist point of view, but originated from the knowledge that a sexist comment would create the biggest stir — i.e., trolling?

    Am I being clear on that? Do you understand the distinction I am trying to make? A sexist comment does not have to have sexism as its root source/cause. It could simply be based on the intellectual understanding that a sexist comment will get the biggest return under certain circumstances. That source issue does not, in my opinion, mean that the source individual is necessarily sexist by nature; it means that they know which triggers to pull and are using disingenuous rhetorical trickery to do so; they are acting, playing a role.

    Do you see what I am trying to posit?

    Perhaps that kind of long winded definition could be included in discussion of actual trolling.

    Anyway, that’s off topic. My point is that while those comments were awful, and while there is no excuse or justification for them, it behooves us all to try and determine the various reasons/causes behind them, and not just shout Sexism; Misogyny. It is not that simple, that black and white.

  53. Thil says

    @Hankstar AKA Mandrellian, Kicker of Biological Goals

    I think whats reasonable behavior and what your rights are aren’t the same thing. I think what youtube thinks is reasonable is about as important as what anyone thinks is reasonable in the absence of an argument.

    I think that web sites should be allowed to censor what content goes on them, what I think is a problem is that people don’t realize that.

  54. Pitchguest says

    Ally:

    And I was pointing out that those reasons are disingenuous, bogus and downright embarrassing.

    Please. First rule of critical thinking: always ask questions. Applying critical thinking to the situation regarding Sarkeesian from the information he was privy, John essentially just provides a counter hypothesis to why she might’ve received the comments she did. Because the hypothetical reasons he provides are not to your liking… does not automatically make them “disingenuous, bogus and downright embarassing.”

    Think of it by analogy. A black man is out on the street, shaking a bucket to raise funds for a campaign against racism. A group of neo-Nazis come along and beat him up. In the aftermath, he says “You see? This is what we’re up against! Now will you give me some money?” and lots of people put lots of money in his bucket.

    I can’t see anything wrong with that. Can you?

    Or in the same analogy, if the victim of the beating had sold his story to a newspaper for tens of thousands of pounds, it would be entirely his story to sell as he sees fit, and the fact that he sold it does not make the racist beating he took any more justified and does not begin to explain it.

    I’ll be blunt. This is a shit analogy. A black person getting attacked by a Neo-Nazi is a situation where two ideological opposites meet and confront eachother. Or in your case, beat the other one up. Anita Sarkeesian did not get “beat up” (verbally) by her ideological opposites. In fact, most of the criticism I’ve seen against her have been reasonable and civil, from men and women alike, and they come from her ideological companions. From gamers. Gamers that disagree with her approach, gamers that dislike her approach and yes, even gamers that outright hates her approach.

    Before she shut down comments on her videos, you would have seen the majority of them were at least trying to reason with her, while insulted by the loud minority. Her videos were also being regularly downvoted (and this was before her Kickstarter) due to the bad quality of her videos (and her arguments), but rather than listening to constructive criticism, she took the tiny sample of comments from trolls to justify disabling comments and ratings.

    She did the same thing when she made her Kickstarter; the only video that accepted ratings and comments was her Kickstarter video, and even then most of the comments were sound and reasonable, but of course it was downrated and many comments heaped abuse and she took advantage of this, put it up on her Kickstarter page and highlighted it, but how is this even remotely similar to a black man getting attacked by Neo-Nazis? In order for the analogy to be close to accurate, the black man would have to make extreme assertions about racism that even other black men (and women) find farfetched, attempt to explain it away incompetently and then attempt to raise funds to gain a platform where he can continue to make these extreme assertions, and the ones criticising him (not just attacking) would be other black people.

    It’s not possible to make a perfect analogy here, as I’d replace the black man with a black woman, but since it’s about racism and not sexism in your analogy and it’s about sexism with Anita Sarkeesian (and she’s white), it’s clear your analogy works even less in comparison.

  55. mattisironen says

    “people did this because an outsider to their imagined group (men who love games), criticized something they like and they couldn’t think of a reasoned argument

    I think this is exactly right.”

    This seems somewhat wrongheaded to me; as in you need to have a rational argument to anything you like. I personally think it’s kinda hard to come up with a rational argument why you’d think Star Trek: TOS is great (especially by modern standards); yet it seems, on the flipside, somewhat irrational to enumerate all the things wrong with it and demand everyone denounces it.

    Sure, the series is sexist as anything if you choose view it that way. So should it now be censored/erased and every fan be denounced as a misogynist (or sexist a best)? According to Sarkeesian’s simplistic criteria, yes. It it this kind of thought-policing that turns my stomach.

  56. AndrewV69, Visiting MRA, Purveyor of Piffle & Woo says

    8.8
    My point is that while those comments were awful, and while there is no excuse or justification for them, it behooves us all to try and determine the various reasons/causes behind them, and not just shout Sexism; Misogyny. It is not that simple, that black and white.

    .

    Nonetheless, I do find it interesting how non-gamers try to make sense of it and what they come up with.
    .

    @Alley, the above is not a “shot” aimed at you. I do not think you are ever going to grock the culture though unless you are willing to invest a thousand hours actually playing some of the games and/or joining a raiding guild.

  57. Thil says

    I think it depends what you mean by “brought it all upon herself”.

    a lot of victims could have avoided being victimized if they acted differently. weather or your not you think they should have in another issue.

    for instance I imagine those teenage girls who kidnapped in Cleveland back in 03 could have avoided that if they’d only ever left the house accompanied by a family member. however that’s not a reasonable expectation of a teenager

  58. LeftSidePositive says

    mattisironen,

    That is complete and total bollocks. Anita is IN NO WAY WHATSOEVER arguing for censoring, banning, or erasing anything. She’s just raising awareness. She’s just hoping people learn to recognize sexist tropes so that they will question them, and CHOOSE–of their own free will–to consume better products. She’s trying to encourage game developers to write more inclusive content–they’re still free to disagree with her and make the same old stuff: she isn’t forcing anyone. She has never said you can’t possibly like problematic things, and a fan isn’t necessarily ***A*** misogynist (That “A” is a classic red flag of the ignorant, privilege-denying status quo defender!). But it’s important to think critically about representations in media, and if the fact that you prefer certain tropes about women makes you uncomfortable if someone points them out, the problem is with your choices and your values, not the person making the analysis! It also shouldn’t be too hard to empathize with someone if they say they don’t like something because the flaws that you can overlook are too close to home for someone else. If someone actively supports and seeks out media with certain marginalizing representations of women, that may say something about zem. It might just be that ze doesn’t recognize certain cultural biases, not that ze is necessarily a bad person or being intentionally harmful. If ze is convinced by an argument that something is problematic, no one is forcing zem–ze is just learning to appreciate other perspectives. And if the problematic stuff becomes too distracting to ignore, the problem is that otherwise fun stuff in our society is being cluttered up with a lot of patriarchal baggage–that’s the problem with the people making and consuming the media, not with the person pointing out the flaws!

    By the way, they weren’t trying to make a reasoned argument about their subjective enjoyment of the videogames (because Anita herself says she likes a lot of problematic media!), but they can’t make a reasoned argument as to why her analysis is unnecessary and why sexism in video games isn’t a significant problem.

    Your whole argument is nothing more than “You’re trying to silence me by being right!!!”

  59. Thil says

    @mattisironen

    people like to think the things they like are flawless

    I don’t think she’s ever advocated censorship (I’d have to back and check) and if she thinks anyone who likes a sexist work is automatically sexist then she thinks she’s a sexist her self because she said she likes video games

  60. Ally Fogg says

    johngreg (8.8)

    For example, can we discuss the possibility that many of those responses, while sexist in their content, may not originate from an inherently sexist point of view, but originated from the knowledge that a sexist comment would create the biggest stir — i.e., trolling?

    I don’t think misogyny (or racism or homophobia or whatever) is an essential state of being. Someone is a misogynist if they say or do misogynistic things.

    Someone who makes racist jokes is a racist. He or she might not think s/he is a racist, but in the telling of the joke s/he becomes so.

    Someone who uses misogynistic language and terms as an act of trolling is a misogynistic troll. He might not think he is misogynist, but in the act of trolling like that he becomes so.

    Misogyny is not all or nothing. One can be a little bit misogynistic. One can be misogynistic for only one day or one moment, and in that moment he is a misogynist, maybe a little bit, maybe a lot.

    Misogyny does not cease to be misogyny because it is trolling.

    I’ve seen the same explanation given for attacks on Rebecca Watson and others – “it’s not really misogyny, it’s just trolling.” That’s utter shite. It is no better because it is ‘just’ trolling. It is no less misogynistic because it is trolling. It is no less hurtful or harmful because it is trolling.

    I’m not averse to the occasional bit of trolling myself. I’ll sometimes wind people up for the lulz. I’ll ask deliberately provocative questions or pretend to be someone I’m not in order to expose hypocrisy or pretentiousness. I’ll even occasionally call people rude names. But I would never, ever attack a black person with vile racist epithets. I would never attack a woman with aggressive, vile gendered or sexual epithets. Not because I’m a saint, but quite simply because I’m not a racist and I’m not a misogynist and it would make me feel sick to my stomach to even pretend to be a racist or a misogynist. There would be no lulz in that whatsoever. And if I’m honest, anyone who can do those things without feeling sick to their stomach is, in my book, an out and out racist or misogynist, whatever their claims to the contrary.

  61. Ally Fogg says

    Signing out for the night (late here) but to pitchguest, Andrew V69 and others, I think my comment to john at 8.10 pretty much covers many of the rest of your points too, perhaps.

    Back tomorrow I hope. Night all.

  62. Jacob Schmidt says

    Ally Fogg

    While there is no direct symmetry, we have seen the same principle at play in the concerted attempts of some feminists (mostly, but not entirely historic) to stifle debate about male victims and female perpetrators of domestic violence, with activists, writers and academics being branded misogynists and abusers for even raising the issues.

    I’m gonna second some annoyance with this. I see this claim all the time (though usually without any mention of the asymmetry at play), but I see far more abuse hurled at people engaging in hyperskepticism or derailing than people engaging in reasonable debate. I believe stifling debate happens; feminists are people too, and they exhibit the same qualities any group of people exhibit (i.e. every group has it’s assholes). I’m not convinced of any sort of significant prevalence, though.

    Without any sort of link, I have little to go on. And I’m not gonna go looking through blogs and networks for the same reason you won’t. That is, “I’d rather not because it would be quite time-consuming and I have got no particular desire to spend my evening trawling through internet arguments to make a point.”

    I’m with you on the rest of the article. It was a good read.

    Gjenganger

    Anita Sarkeesians research project was – fairly obviously – designed to gather ammunition for a campaign to force games to change and squeeze out expressions that Sarkeesian did not like. In short, to control the games that other people are able to play.

    I’m genuinely curious as to how the “forced change” would have worked. Was she gonna embarrass the video game developers at large by demonstrating their obvious sexism?

    johngreg

    It appears that she tailored the debate, through manipulation of commentary and other forms of media control, to stir up false controversy and specifically to skew the issue to garner more dosh.

    I’m curious about this as well. How could this have been done? She didn’t do much besides updating her websites security and taking screen shots of the abuse sent her way. There’s also the fact that she had no control over the abuse that happened on independent forums.

    Pitchguest

    John has his own hypothesis to what might have garnered Anita that much abuse, and you cut his argument short to proceed into a kind of gish gallop.

    I don’t think you know what a Gish Gallop is.

    Because if you did, you would be aware of her comment policy on YouTube: no comments allowed and ratings disabled on all of her videos. No exceptions. Except… except the video about her Kickstarter. From here, she cherrypicked the comments that she knew would inevitably arrive (from trolls) and promptly posted it on her Kickstarter page, detailing her “harassment.” Act the helpless victim and boom, instant profit.

    The bolded is the amusing part; her harrasment was inevitable, but no, there’s no problem. And why is harassment in scare quotes? Oh, and what about the reddit threads about her? And the editing of her Wikipedia page to include porn? Was that all her doing?

    For the record, giving people a platform from which to speak is not manipulating them into harrassing you and bringing the harrassment to light is not “act[ing] the helpless victim”.

    Her most infamous example of this is her review of the game Bayonetta where it becomes obvious she has A) not played the game, B) not made the research and C) not even tried.

    I hear so much about Bayonetta, I’ve stopped caring. I’ll even assume you’re right. But it’s the only example of her messing up anybody bothers to mention, so at this point I’m convinced there are no others worth mentioning.

    After several of these videos missing the mark, it’s not a surprise she’d get detractors who criticise her methods, especially if she markets herself as a pioneer to be one of the first to examine sexism in videogames. (She isn’t.)

    Nor does she market herself as such.

    Thil

    she sometimes tells her audience directly what to think[1] and almost always seems to take the root of blaming individual writers for perpetuating stereotypes[2] instead of just suggesting they should be less prevalent[3] (I think you shouldn’t do that because only the writer can know if it was truly written that way just because of the stereotype or not[4])

    1) Where does she do this?
    2) I don’t think she does. She points out that individual writers used stereotypes (intentionally or not), and that these stereotypes became standards in video games.
    3) She does. Explicitly, several times.
    4) Whether or not the idea was because of the stereotype doesn’t matter; it is part of the stereotype, and its yet another example of X sexist trope.

    I don’t think the logical extension of suggesting a victim could have avoided being a victim if they acted differently, is blaming the victim. I don’t think you should avoid having a discussion about if some behaviors make victim-hood more likely, are automatically invalid or should be avoided because they could lead to victim blaming

    The problem is the prevalence of such suggestions. They seem to be made often, and to the exclusion of any suggestions towards fixing the problem in the first place. Suggesting that people modify their behaviour to avoid harassment or that the harassment was due to some fairly innocuous behaviour totally ignores the culture that enables such harassment.

  63. johngreg says

    So, just to make sure I have this straight, does that mean when PZ Myers says he wants to fuck a rather innocent and harmless gelato shop owner into the ground, it means that PZ is in fact, as his words reflect, an angry homosexual who wants to sodomize the rather harmless gelato shop owner until he becames one with the dirt on the street? Or that writers, or comedians, or actors, who “become” racists, et al, are in fact racists, et al? And when an actor portrays, favourably, as in a balanced portrayal of an otherwise flawed human being, some racist, or sexist, or homophobe et al in a movie, then they too are guilty of those behaviours/ideologies? Or when I discuss Mark Twain’s use of the word nigger in his books, and vociferously defend his use and provide my own explicatory examples of racist bigotry to provide satiric and or ironic example, of the word nigger in his books because it was critically specific to and reflective of the issues, and was intended to what we would today call troll his readership into vociferous emotional reaction, that Twain was critical of, I am, therefore, a racist too?

    You utterly deny, categorically, that some troller using such terminology is not, cannot be, could not be playing a role, just for reaction, personal profit, benefit, or even, shudder, to POE?

    Have I got that all quite right? Please spell it out for this rather thick cracker.

  64. Pitchguest says

    Ally (8.10)

    Right. So. The debate if racism can apply to “white” people rages on right now on Twitter and there are calls to throw out the dictionary definition of racism for the purely sociological definition. Racism which can stand for cultural oppression where one “race” think themselves superior to another, can also stand for simple discrimination or just intolerance between the “races.”

    Now, misogyny, according to the dictionary, means “hatred of women.” Dislike, dislike and *hatred* of women. To cement the point, I’ve been called a misogynist many times. I’ve called some names and insulted some. However, I never did *because* they were women. Again, because misogyny means “hatred of women.” It doesn’t mean “hatred of bad arguments from people who happen to be women.” I’ve never once expressed hate for women, I’ve never once expressed hate for women because they’re women, yet because I happen to disagree with something a woman said I’m misogynist. Which makes me curious that I keep seeing you repeating as if it’s a mantra, “misogyny, misogyny, misogyny”, what, praytell, when you use the word “misogyny”, what definition do you have in mind?

  65. Thil says

    1) http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=zQwqepW97zs

    2) I’m talking about all her videos, not just the video game one.

    3) “just”

    4) but if it was’nt caused by the stereotype it shoul’nt be changed, writers shouldn’t feel an obligation to compromise thier vision for some supposed higher good

    The rest) no the problem is the implication that it does logically lead to victim blaming. Also “could” is a world away from “should”

  66. AndrewV69, Visiting MRA, Purveyor of Piffle & Woo says

    @ 13.8 Thil

    for instance I imagine those teenage girls who kidnapped in Cleveland back in 03 could have avoided that if they’d only ever left the house accompanied by a family member. however that’s not a reasonable expectation of a teenager

    Perhaps if you wanted me to conceed that the victim was “asking for it” and/or what a reasonable expectation might be then you might have said something like this instead:

    If I leave my car unlocked with the key in the ignition and the windows down in a busy parking lot, with my laptop on a front seat and a wad of cash on the dash …

    Just saying.

  67. ConcentratedH2O, OM says

    Where is Nerd when you need him*?

    …says Woo, at 2.2

    I would suggest that if you ever need Nerd of Redhead, then you should make a serious reevaluation of your life choices.

  68. johngreg says

    It struck me that perhaps I should add an adendum. In my post, numbered 8.11, I am not being absolutely literal. I am, to some degree, being allegorical in an attempt to highlight what I consider to be, as I previously stated, black and white / us or them / with us or against us / absolutist, thinking, which I believe to be some of the most dangerous forms of intellectual activity currently cursing the intellectual planet.

  69. Paul B says

    Sexism in whatever shape or form it takes place is unacceptable. And people of both sexes have a right to do whatever they need to do to challenge it. Which is where the problems begin. For it seems to me that many people of both sexes view sexism as being a one-way street. Or put another way sexism is something that women and women only suffer from.

    I’ve recently had online exchanges with two female posters who are extremely adept at complaining if they feel they’re being subjected to language that is either sexist,abusive or patronising but who themselves nevertheless blatantly use language which is either sexist ,abusive or patronisning. And when challenged seem singularly unable to accept that they’re guilty of having double-standards.It’s as though they think that as women they’re somehow special. And that the rules that they think should apply to men don’t apply to them simply on account of being female.

    I’m not seeking to detract from the sexism that women can and do suffer from. I’m simply saying that from my perspective based on my own experiences women can be every bit as guilty as men of being either sexist,abusive or patronising. And that being female shouldn’t give women any right to special treatment if they’re serious about wanting equality. For equality and having the best of both worlds are not one and the same thing..

  70. Gjenganger says

    @Jacob Schmidt

    I’m genuinely curious as to how the “forced change” would have worked. Was she gonna embarrass the video game developers at large by demonstrating their obvious sexism?

    Presumably the usual way. Get out the report proving how sexist all these games are and how they are leading impressionable young men astray. Get your campaigning friends to work on how these games are promoting rape and brutishness and victimising women by their very existence, citing your report as proof. Get into parliamentary committees, discussing bans and licensing rules, and hope that in the end the companies will agree to a ‘voluntary’ code of conduct to keep regulators and liberal opinion off their backs. A long way away, maybe, but surely not unthinkable. Anyway, you can hardly doubt that Sarkeesian would like make computer games anti-sexist, and is working towards that goal. And for the current crop of gamers it is the lack of favourite games that will matter, not the mechanism by which they were removed. Their tactics are reprehensible, but their motivation is not all that strange.

  71. Ally Fogg says

    johngreg (8.11)

    So, just to make sure I have this straight, does that mean when PZ Myers says he wants to fuck a rather innocent and harmless gelato shop owner into the ground, it means that PZ is in fact, as his words reflect, an angry homosexual who wants to sodomize the rather harmless gelato shop owner until he becames one with the dirt on the street?

    I never caught up with the great skeptics Gelato scandal, so forgive me if I don’t quite capture what PZ may or may not have done, but in the hypothetical, if someone says “fuck you” to a gelato vendor, then they are being aggressive and abusive.

    if someone says “fuck you, faggor” to a gelato vendor, they are being aggressive, abusive and homophobic, whether or not s/he believes homosexuality is wrong or that homosexuals are bad / inferior people.

    If someone says “fuck you, spic” to a gelato vendor, they are being aggressive, abusive and racist, whether or not s/he believes Hispanic people are inferior.

    If someone says “fuck you, whore” to a gelato vendor, they are being aggressive, abusive and misogynist, whether or not s/he believes women are inferior or hateful creatures.

    Why is this? Because adding a racial, sexist or homophobic slur to a personal attack focuses the anger not on the person and what they have said or done, but upon their racial, gender or sexual identity.

    “Or that writers, or comedians, or actors, who “become” racists, et al, are in fact racists, et al?”

    No of course not. Because when I watch Jack Nicholson in As Good As it Gets or Leonardo di Caprio in Django Unchained, I know that I am watching a performance.

    When I read the comments under a blog or a video, I have to assume that people are speaking their mind. They may not be speaking literally, but they are conveying their meaning.

    If someone says “Brilliant blog, well said” I have to assume they mean it.

    If someone says “Awful article, how could anyone be so stupid?” I have to assume they mean it.

    If someone says “I’m going to find you and rape you, you Jewish whore” I have to assume they mean it. I might not seriously think they are going to commit a physical act of rape, but I would assume that the hateful intent, the misogyny, the racism and the desire to threaten, alarm and degrade is genuine.

    You utterly deny, categorically, that some troller using such terminology is not, cannot be, could not be playing a role, just for reaction, personal profit, benefit, or even, shudder, to POE?

    No, I am saying that a troll using such terminology for those reasons is committing a racist / misogynist / whatever act by adopting that persona or voice.

    As a final comment, I’d like you to consider two hypothetical people.

    The first holds lots of deeply-felt negative prejudices against black people – that they are less intelligent, less trustworthy etc than white people. However s/he never expresses those opinions out loud, never acts upon them, never says or does anything that could be perceived by others as racist.

    The second, deep down, believes that there are no essential differences between races, thinks everyone should be treated equally etc, however s/he thinks it is cool or amusing to send racist hatemail, use racist language, shout racist abuse at people in the street and likes to bully and intimidate black people.

    Which one of those is racist? I would argue strongly that both are.

    I would also argue that the second is far more harmful, far more socially corrosive, puts a lot more hate, fear and division into the world and therefore is morally a much, much nastier person than the first.

  72. Ally Fogg says

    pitchguest (8.12)

    I’ve also been called a misogynist many times on the internet, so I can sympathise. I see the word being thrown around too much on the internet. I have no idea what you did to warrant the accusations, so I can’t comment specifically, but in general terms:

    I don’t think that someone who ever criticises or disagrees with a feminist is automatically a misogynist.

    I don’t think someone who criticises or disagrees with a woman is automatically a misogynist.

    I think someone who criticises or disagrees with a woman or feminist in reference to her gender is on very thin ice. (eg “Crap logic, typical woman.”)

    I think someone who criticises or disagrees with a woman while abusively attacking her in terms designed to degrade or debase her sexually or with aggressive gendered slurs (any use of words like “slut” or “whore”) or with irrelevant attacks on her appearance (“ugly bitch”) or which calls upon the logic and discourse of sexual violence (rape references or threats) are almost invariably misogynistic. And that is true whether it stems from a deeply held underlying beliefs about women OR from the desire to use the woman’s gender, sexuality etc as a weapon against her.

    HTH

  73. wtfwhatever says

    PZ Myers brags about the shitty abusive ways his feminist commentariat keep free speech at bay in his threads.

    If Woo can’t see that or admit to that, fuck her for his stupidity and/or intellectual dishonesty.

  74. Jacob Schmidt says

    Thil

    1) http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=zQwqepW97zs

    2) I’m talking about all her videos, not just the video game one.

    You seriously have a problem with her telling men not to be sexist? You realize that the writer of this blog does the same thing right? As do most writers on the blog network. As do most writers at all interested in gender issues. I find it odd that you pick her out from everyone else to criticize for this non-issue.

    Replace “standard in video games” with “standards in media”, and the point still stands.

    but if it was’nt caused by the stereotype it shoul’nt be changed, writers shouldn’t feel an obligation to compromise thier vision for some supposed higher good

    Uh, what? We shouldn’t try to avoid being accidentally harmful?

    Gjenganger

    Get out the report proving how sexist all these games are and how they are leading impressionable young men astray. Get your campaigning friends to work on how these games are promoting rape and brutishness and victimising women by their very existence, citing your report as proof. Get into parliamentary committees, discussing bans and licensing rules, and hope that in the end the companies will agree to a ‘voluntary’ code of conduct to keep regulators and liberal opinion off their backs. A long way away, maybe, but surely not unthinkable.

    If one needs to create a conspiracy theory to even be coherent, one should take a step back and think about how moronic one probably sounds.

    Anyway, you can hardly doubt that Sarkeesian would like make computer games anti-sexist, and is working towards that goal.

    Yeah, she’s rather explicit about that one. Bringing about awareness of sexism within a given media only really has one point.

    And for the current crop of gamers[1] it is the lack of favourite games that will matter, not the mechanism by which they were removed. Their tactics are reprehensible, but their motivation is not all that strange.[2]

    1) It’s not “the current crop”, it’s a specific subset. Not all gamers are sexist asshats.
    2) As far as I can tell, there’s 3 motivations: indignation at saying sexism is bad and should be removed; jumping on the bandwagon; and being hateful for the lulz. All three are reprehensible, and ought to be strange to any reasonable mind.

    wtfwhatever

    PZ Myers brags about the shitty abusive ways his feminist commentariat keep free speech at bay in his threads.

    I’m curious as to what free speech they stifle that you think they should allow.

  75. Thil says

    “You seriously have a problem with her telling men not to be sexist? You realize that the writer of this blog does the same thing right? As do most writers on the blog network. As do most writers at all interested in gender issues. I find it odd that you pick her out from everyone else to criticize for this non-issue”

    I have a problem with her telling men not to be sexist in such a patronizing way. I have a problem with her acting as if her views are absolute truths to point of flatly telling other people they’re wrong to dislike something for any other reason but her own

    “Replace “standard in video games” with “standards in media”, and the point still stands”

    “I don’t think she does. She points out that individual writers used stereotypes (intentionally or not), and that these stereotypes became standards in media games”

    like I said she can’t know if writers are using stereotypes just because they’re there, or if it’s accentual to the story

    “Uh, what? We shouldn’t try to avoid being accidentally harmful?”

    not at the price of artistic integrity

  76. Jacob Schmidt says

    Thil

    I have a problem with her telling men not to be sexist in such a patronizing way. I have a problem with her acting as if her views are absolute truths to point of flatly telling other people they’re wrong to dislike something for any other reason but her own

    Again, those reasons that she’s saying are wrong are sexist. That you have no problem with anyone else opposing sexism is quite odd. It looks like ad hoc bullshit to me.

    Also, I managed to not feel patronized. Then again, I already think that being homophobic is wrong.

    like I said she can’t know if writers are using stereotypes just because they’re there, or if it’s accentual to the story

    Again, she says little about why the writers used the stereotype; she usually only says that they are used and that they are extremely common.

    not at the price of artistic integrity

    Isn’t this you telling me what I should think?

    I had no idea that using trite stereotypes indicated integrity. I had no idea that personal artistic integrity is objectively more important than not being harmful to others, whether accidentally or not.

    I’m amused at you thinking artistic integrity is something that remains intact when creating video games. They’re like any other media; most of it is made to sell, and that very often comes at the expense of integrity. Hell, if you look at her video and damsels in distress, you’ll see an example of a female protagonist being replaced with a male one so that it would fit within a previously existing franchise.

  77. johngreg says

    Ally said:

    when I watch Jack Nicholson in As Good As it Gets or Leonardo di Caprio in Django Unchained, I know that I am watching a performance.

    Yes, certainly. So, tell me how, without knowing them, having never met them, and having access only to their anonymous online blather, do you know that these so-called sexist supposed trolls are not providing a performance? Seriously, how do you know that?

    I almost never accuse some online poster/blogger/commentor of being sexist, or racist, or whathaveyou, because I do not know them. And only if a continued pattern of behaviour emerges am I prepared to posit that they may be some ‘ism or other.

    Some folks make the mistake of equating a series of comments by a series of people as a pattern of behaviour. It is not. It is a series of a series. A pattern of behaviour is when one single solitary individual repeatedly displays some specific characteristic or pattern of behaviour.

    When I read the comments under a blog or a video, I have to assume that people are speaking their mind. They may not be speaking literally, but they are conveying their meaning.

    I do the same thing. That is because we are projecting our own character/behaviour onto others, i.e., we regard others as doing what we do, and give them the charity of fair trust — so to speak. My argument is that although I do that to, it is not necessarily warranted, and that to make such a determination, i.e., that someone is/is not a sexist/racist et al, in reality takes more than just a couple of comments on the ‘net.

    Which one of those is racist? I would argue strongly that both are.

    Yes, and that is where we differ, because I would argue that you give spoken words too much power in defining the individual — I would argue that only the first individual is racist. In all seriousness, I think your position paints you into an unsustainable, untenable corner, If we follow your rule, so to speak, to determine whether people are what they say, then in all seriousness, and I mean this, how can we define PZ Myers as anything other than a racist, sexist professional troll spreading hate?

    I would also argue that the second is far more harmful, far more socially corrosive, puts a lot more hate, fear and division into the world and therefore is morally a much, much nastier person than the first.

    And I would agree with that. And that is precisely why I think PZ Myers (and perhaps Benson and Zvan) is such a bad influence. I suspect that he is not really the bile-filled massive monster of hate and anger that he projects on the ‘net, but that he does so because it gives him lolz, some income, and a large group of very, very vocal supporters.

    Ally, I understand your point, I really do. However, I disagree with it. I think it is too limiting, too black and white. When people continually say so-called sexist/racist things, meaning they show a continued pattern of behaviour, then yes they are almost certainly going to be what they say, so to speak. But I believe that it fundamentally requires a pattern of behaviour before an individual can be labelled as being what they say. Otherwise, we are all racist, sexist, bigots one way or another because I doubt very much if there is anyone who has not, at one time or another, for one reason or another, said something that is anti-sometihing or other.

    You’ll probably think I am nuts, but after reading all your posts here at FfTB — I was not aware of you before you launched your blog here — I think we are almost certainly much closer in attitude and opinion than would appear so on the surface — not in total agreement, certainly, but closer than it would appear. It is, I suspect, one of those if we met in a bar, and really put our heads together in serious discussion, using all the tools available in physical face-to-face discourse things, wherein, I suspect we could come to a pretty good consensus.

  78. johngreg says

    Ultimately, I am still somewhat baffled at how much airtime, so to speak, the potential sexism in games gets, when almost no one amongst the free thinking socil justice warrior crowd seems the least bit dismayed by the simple fact that it would appear that the majority of the most popular games are predictaed, almost entirely, on the killing of hundreds and thousands of men. Is that not in itself somewhat more sexist, and more damaging, than skimpy sexy outfits and bad language? Seriously, isn’t it?

  79. Thil says

    Jacob Schmidt

    “Again, those reasons that she’s saying are wrong are sexist. That you have no problem with anyone else opposing sexism is quite odd. It looks like ad hoc bullshit to me”

    those reasons weren’t all sexist, many of them were just a matter of preference or she was taking things out of context. wanting Edward to be more violent is just a mater of preference as is wanting him to be less sensitive (incidentally in my experience normally when people voice that later concern they’re trying to make the point he’s sensitive to the point of impracticality)

    “Also, I managed to not feel patronized. Then again, I already think that being homophobic is wrong”

    someone telling you (you being a member of the male gender?) something you already know in a condescending tone of voice, didn’t make you feel patronized?

    “Again, she says little about why the writers used the stereotype; she usually only says that they are used and that they are extremely common”

    the logical implication is that stereotypes are used so often because they exist

    “Isn’t this you telling me what I should think?”

    you asked me

    “I had no idea that using trite stereotypes indicated integrity”

    it depends on the context. a women character being a stay at home mother might be integral part of your narrative

    “I had no idea that personal artistic integrity is objectively more important than not being harmful to others, whether accidentally or not”

    I think honesty is objectively more important than not being harmful, and artistic integrity is a form of honesty

  80. Ally Fogg says

    johngreg (8.17)

    Yes, certainly. So, tell me how, without knowing them, having never met them, and having access only to their anonymous online blather, do you know that these so-called sexist supposed trolls are not providing a performance? Seriously, how do you know that?

    OK, let’s suppose some of this is “a performance.” That doesn’t make it a victimless performance.

    Someone could commit an act of assault, kick someone’s head in, not because they particularly hate the victim, but because they want to impress their mates, they want to look tough, they find it amusing or whatever. They are adopting the persona of a violent person in order to put on a performance. But a performance with a real victim and real, damaging effects, a real person getting their head kicked in, who probably doesn’t stop to wonder whether it was being done out of hate or desire for attention. The bruises last just as long either way.

    Now of course I’m not arguing that calling someone foul names on the internet is an offence of similar proportions, but the exact same principle applies.

    If you are a black person subject to vicious, threatening and hateful racism, if you are a gay person subject to vicious, threatening and hateful homophobia, if you are a woman subject to vicious, threatening and hateful misogyny, it has actual consequences on your sense of wellbeing and security, your mental health, sometimes even your physical health. Just getting a couple such messages, tweets, comments or emails is pretty unpleasant. Getting dozens, hundreds, even thousands of them is an unimaginably horrendous experience.

    it’s all very well saying victims of such behaviour can just tell themselves “it’s only trolls” and ignore it, sticks and stones and all that, but that’s easier said than done. As Tim Minchin put it, “sticks and stones may break your bones but words can break your heart.”

    If someone commits a racist act, or a misogynistic act or whatever, I don’t stop to ask myself oh, I wonder if that person has committed an extended series of similar acts of sufficient duration to warrant the description of “racist” or “misogynist” I just think fuck you, racist prick. Which is exactly the reaction they deserve. And I repeat, sending a racist or misogynistic message, whether for trolling lulz or not, is a racist or misogynistic act.

    Yes, and that is where we differ, because I would argue that you give spoken words too much power in defining the individual

    There’s a rather famous work of fiction, you’ve probably heard of it, which contains the line “by his deeds shall ye know a man.” That strikes me as pretty good advice.

    Or if you prefer it from an atheist source, John Paul Satre said something like “Man will be what he makes of himself. There is no human nature, because there is no God to have a conception of it “

    I profoundly disagree that there is such a thing as a racist or a misogynist beyond racist and misogynist acts, words and deeds. That implies some kind of essentialism which I think is philosophical bullshit.

    It’s pretty much irrelevant, because the morality of a deed comes down to the intention to cause hurt, not the motivation to cause hurt. Someone who is being racist or misogynist or homophobic for a laugh is, in my view, a much bigger bastard than someone who does it because of deep seated psychological issues. It’s verging on sadism for the fun of it.

    If we follow your rule, so to speak, to determine whether people are what they say, then in all seriousness, and I mean this, how can we define PZ Myers as anything other than a racist, sexist professional troll spreading hate?

    So, you’ll need to enlighten me. When did PZ send someone a message employing racist and sexist language and slurs, using someone’s race and gender as his preferred choice of weapon? That would justify your allegation of racism and sexism.

    And when did PZ ever attack people disingenuously, for the lulz and the attention, rather than out of genuine anger or outrage at something they’d done? Because if he has, that would justify the allegation that he’s a troll.

    I’ve dipped in and out of PZ’s blogs for a couple of years. I know he can be abrasive and abusive at times. So can I. But I’ve never seen anything that would give me cause to believe he is either racist or sexist.

    And without getting into specifics of personalities, as a hypothetical, if one person says to a female blogger:

    “Suck my dick you Jewish whore” and someone else replies:

    “Fuck off you racist, misogynistic asshat”

    …are the two messages morally equal? No, not for a moment. The second one is entirely justified and justifiable, the first is never acceptable under any circumstances.

  81. Ally Fogg says

    I think this a really interesting point John, and very much ties in to what I was saying in my previous couple of blogs about structural misandry and violent cultures of masculinity. I think it is very much tied to patriarchal constructions of men and the warrior ethic.

    But the correct thing to do, IMO, if you care about such things, is to write blogs and articles about it, make a few YouTube videos, get your ideas out there.

    Don’t just complain because feminists are pointing out (largely correctly) the ways in which women are typically portrayed in video games. The two lines of thought could and should complement each other.

    That said, I’d be interested in the reaction from the 4Chan etc crowd if you launched a kickstarter to campaign against COD.

  82. Thil says

    Ally Fogg

    “That said, I’d be interested in the reaction from the 4Chan etc crowd if you launched a kickstarter to campaign against COD” I thought you were against censorship? or do you mean a campaign with some aim other than banning?

  83. johngreg says

    Ally, this has been a very interesting discussion. Thanks. You have indeed given me some things to ponder. I still disagree with you, as well reasoned as your discourse has been, but perhaps less so than I did at the beginning.

    I think I’ll leave the PZ issue aside for the moment. I don’t want to sour your blog with the inevitabile angry backlash that that would bring.

    Cheers.

    JG

  84. johngreg says

    Ha, thanks Ally. I will admit I am too undisciplined to actually start a blog or a campaign. Also, to be frank, I am not at all sure that the men-killing aspect of those games bothers me very much; I just find it intriguing that it seems to get left out of the discussion.

    Regarding game violence in general, I find it interesting that when I first started gaming, back in ’95, I found the violence of games like Doom, as cartoonish as it was, to be really blechh and distasteful. Now, whether due to being older, at 57, or whether due to playing games, I don’t know, but I find the issue of game violence in general almost a non-issue altogether. But I have to admit I vascilate and am usually on the fence.

    As for launching a kickstarter campaign against COD, I think I value my life and peace of mind far too much to attempt such a thing.

    :)

    Cheers.

    JG

  85. Clarence Woodworth says

    Hmm.
    Here’s a good blog about the male side of things in the current video game industry.
    This link has all the mentions of Anita on his blog. He has more than one whole post devoted to her.
    http://themalesofgames.blogspot.com/search?q=Anita

    And here’s the first of two video critiques of her, if you are interested:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p6gLmcS3-NI

    Whatever you believe about her – and I personally believe she is a dishonest and destructive force – this thread could have benefited from some more links to her critics and to information about her.

  86. Terrene says

    Following on from Clarence’s remark. Could I direct everyone’s attention to the very first comment on this blog by Surreptitious57, please? Which sums up why this thread would in no way benefit anyone except haters and trolls by including personal attacks on individuals rather than a genuine discussion of the topics raised in th OP. I’d be interested in discussion. I might learn something.

  87. johngreg says

    Gee, I don’t know, Terrene, I find it rather difficult to garner anything from illiterate, meaningless, drivel.

    However, Ally, and some others have indeed provided some very interesting and informative ideas in this thread. Surreptitious57’s illiterate and somewhat incoherent spooge … not so much.

  88. Sasori says

    Crap, I’ve been trying to not post bricks of text…
    A lot of the angry comments in various internet gender debates might be explained by ‘triggering.’ Not the more serious PTSD reaction, but the way it has come to mean having a visceral, emotional reaction to viewing some kind of media and acting on that by typing internet hyperbole.
    I think that Sarkesian’s pre kickstarter videos (the video afterwards is a little different) were intended for a feminist audience and showed it. She had a sloppy understanding of the games she was critiquing, lacked context and generally seemed to be shoehorning the games into a canned narrative of misogyny. Also her delivery was haughty and condensing and from an implied position of absolute moral authority. It was a handy guide in how not to communicate with teenage boys. This ‘triggered’ a visceral reaction from the 13-19 year old teen boys who make up the vast majority of youtube’s computer game audience (and especially commenters). Other videos by Tamashi Hiroka and Daniel Floyd about similar subjects have not received the same reaction (Tamashi still gets hate but there is a good discussion in her moderated comments page).

    Also an aspect of this affair was a type of ‘brigading’ and ‘raids’ where people read an inflammatory article, get pre-riled up and then go over and post vitriol on another website etc. There are also popular figures who use their followers or ‘personal armies’ to spam angry vitriol against opponents and enemies. This happens not only with pop stars and celebrities but political bloggers and other more serious figures including internet feminists; it was an interesting feature of the ‘good men project’ saga.
    People on the receiving end of this have included Sarkesian, ‘nerdcore’ rapper MC Chris, Alissa Royce (the women who wrote the offending article for the Good Men Project), the man who filmed the short documentary ‘hot girls of occupy wall st’ (this apparently also translated into irl violence), ‘Sherlock’ actress Amanda Abington, a reviewer of Anne Rice novels and countless others including Adria Richards of ‘donglegate’ fame (particularly interesting because she was a perpetrator and a victim) and probably Ally Fogg.

    The ‘raid’ on Sarkesian iirc came from 4chan’s /v/ computer game board, their previous raids afaik have been mostly funny and whimsical. I don’t think /v/ is misogynistic (I personally think misogamy and misandry are overused phrases and should be reserved for people who actually hate) the board is characterised by a kind of reactionary (somewhat defensive) chauvinism fairly common among teen boys. I think that these things combined and amplified each other, resulting in her becoming a hate figure and subsequently in the abuse she received.

    I think that the journalists responding to the Sarkesian abuse, characterised something which is a feature of the internet (but has a particular flavour when prominent women are attacked) as somehow something only women like Sarkesian go through. Also the modern left, just like the right, has it’s moral panics and ‘legitimate’ targets for vitriol. In general these liberal commentators are happy to have an enemy who it’s acceptable to rail against, that you can use all of your witty put-downs and smilies on without feeling like a bully, especially if that means they are the ones standing up for the little guy. Manichean narratives though, often obscure understanding of what is going on just like on the right.

    Lastly a lot of the backlash and the backlash to the backlash were powered by the need to be inflammatory to generate page-views, the recent kotaku vs ‘dragons crown’ controversy is a good example of this.

  89. John Morales says

    This ‘triggered’ a visceral reaction from the 13-19 year old teen boys who make up the vast majority of youtube’s computer game audience (and especially commenters).

    The term refers to a trauma trigger, not to reactance.

  90. Terrene says

    Oh OK johngreg, maybe I was misreading that post (it does appear squashed and misshapen on my screen, but I assumed that was an issue with my pc) but I understood Surruptitious57 to be saying that the ideal basis for debate is to concentrate on the ideas in play and dissect those, not waste time on personal attacks that get nowhere and serve no purpose. If that wasn’t what Surruptitious57 was saying, then I’ll say it now. As I find Clarence Woodworth’s suggestion of endlessly trying to find fault with Anita Sarkeesian as a person as a way to understand the OP utterly pointless, unproductive of no more value than one of those dreadful ‘reality tv’ shows that rely on character assassination and orchestrated conflicts to provide entertainment. To my mind, this is like comparing a David Attenborough wildlife series to ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ and I’m with David every time. I really would prefer to learn something from this blog if I can, not indulge in voyeurism or titillation. What would other people would like out of it?

  91. Ally Fogg says

    @terrene

    I fully agree, and kind of regret getting slightly sucked into the specific of PZM now.

    Thanks

  92. Sasori says

    Yes I thought I’d gone over that in the preceding paragraph…
    “Not the more serious PTSD reaction, but the way it has come to mean having a visceral, emotional reaction to viewing some kind of media and acting on that by typing internet hyperbole.”

    In general internet parlance the PTSD definition of triggering has become blurred and intertwined with things that you feel ‘limit your autonomy,’ misrepresent you (or you by extension), or just make you angry enough to react on the internet.

  93. Clarence Woodworth says

    I have to agree with Sasori, at least as far as Anita’s videos are concerned.

    They ARE attempts to ‘shoehorn’ things into her ideology and what’s worse is she isn’t even consistent about her complaints, as my linked critiques show. Does she want women to have agency or doesn’t she? Read her dissertation and try to make heads or tails of that question. Then there is pushing things into her simplistic and ill-defined categories: her ‘damsels in distress’ trope video contains examples of video game females who, in some games play very important rules and even rescue the purported hero from time to time but if they get rescued even once she places them in as examples of her trope. People all over the web have critiqued her simplistic and arguably dishonest use of Zelda and Peach: she’s responded to none of them.

    Personally, until her research tightens up I intend to view with suspicion any publication that takes her complaints seriously or at face value.

  94. John Morales says

    Sasori, yes, but regulars at sites focused on social justice issues are not using “general internet parlance”, they’re using social justice jargon in context; when they write triggering, they don’t mean reactance.

    (You’re adding to the confusion)

  95. Sasori says

    hmm, I think you would have more of a point if I didn’t specifically describe what I think is the ‘internet parlance’ version of triggering and distinguish it from the PTSD technical meaning in the previous paragraph to using it. I thought using ‘quote marks’ around the word further indicated that I was using the non technical version, perhaps I was mistaken. Also I do not think my ‘internet parlance’ version just means reactance but also various other ways that people get very angry on the internet. Was that really the only thing that bothered you in that whole brick of text.

  96. John Morales says

    Was that really the only thing that bothered you in that whole brick of text.

    Since you ask: no; the facile pop psychology and the idea that the two sides are equivalent also ‘bothered’ me.

  97. Sasori says

    Hahaha. this is the most meaningless and pedantic argument I think I’ve ever been part of on the internet. I was hoping to have a discussion but sweeping generalisations and pointless insults are also good. m(_ _)m

  98. says

    Do everyone a favor: consider writing a blog post about how feminists silence people and what specific speech they’re silencing. Cuz seriously, this thing comes up over and over again without any evidence beyond “they banned/blocked me!” Is THAT what you’re talking about? This is a subject worth discussion.

  99. John Morales says

    To what argument do you refer?

    I noted your equivocation and I answered your question; I made no argument.

    Here’s another opinion-claim dressed as fact:

    Also her delivery was haughty and condensing [sic] and from an implied position of absolute moral authority.

    Perhaps it was didactic and opinionated, but such implication (even were it true) would not affect the truth-value of any claims made.

    (Your reasoning here is fallacious)

  100. Edward Gemmer says

    It’s true, and unfortunate. It’s also probably why many mainstream successful women are tentative about identifying as feminists. You can go on and on (and on and on and on) about privilege and MRA and whatnot), but most people really don’t care about any of that and you only succeed in making people dislike feminism when you treat them like garbage for showing interest in feminism.

    There is a strain that the more successful feminists have been, the louder (and meaner) they have to be to make further advances.

  101. Sasori says

    I meant the argument we were both having, we are both being silly and pedantic (the [sic] was a nice touch btw, ouch ;_:).

    I wasn’t really talking about the ‘truth-value’ of the claims Sarkesian makes in and of themselves. Although I think she gets a lot of stuff wrong and misinterprets a lot of things, I was trying to understand why her video had the kind of reaction it did, when other somewhat similar videos with lots of views have not provoked this. I think her delivery is part of that, (imho it is a comprehensive how to guide in how not to speak to teen boys). I also tried to think why the journalists reacted in the way they did.

  102. says

    I’m not averse to the occasional bit of trolling myself. I’ll sometimes wind people up for the lulz. I’ll ask deliberately provocative questions or pretend to be someone I’m not in order to expose hypocrisy or pretentiousness. I’ll even occasionally call people rude names. But I would never, ever attack a black person with vile racist epithets. I would never attack a woman with aggressive, vile gendered or sexual epithets. Not because I’m a saint, but quite simply because I’m not a racist and I’m not a misogynist and it would make me feel sick to my stomach to even pretend to be a racist or a misogynist. There would be no lulz in that whatsoever. And if I’m honest, anyone who can do those things without feeling sick to their stomach is, in my book, an out and out racist or misogynist, whatever their claims to the contrary.

    QFMT!

    Accurately describes my own thoughts on “trolling” online… Although I’ve personally never “pretend[ed] to be someone I’m not” apart from letting some people think I’m a woman and maybe hamming it up a little. Doesn’t work well when you use the same nym all the while though.

    To say the abuse women get online is “just” trolling is to be willfully ignorant about the damage done by bigotry. Its also not possible, imo as well, for a non-bigot to do that. I couldn’t even though it would be very tempting to see what the Slymepit for example would put up with before they act…. I just wouldn’t and couldn’t, even though I could do it totally anonymously. To think any other way is worrying and given the amount I’ve been accused of sock-puppetting over there by the pitters there is some weapons grade projection going on.

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