Anita Sarkeesian’s TED talk and the predictable response

This talk by Anita Sarkeesian at the TEDxWomen 2012 event was posted with its ratings and comments disabled. While ordinarily I would consider that the mark of an attempt to stifle debate, this was done because she is the target of an ongoing hate campaign because she’s a woman talking about sexism in a traditionally male-dominated territory: video games.

The comments and downvotes would wreck this talk’s chances of being seen, normally. In this case, knowing that she’d be censored by the same haters she’s talking about, I’m okay with disabling the ratings and comments. We can post it to our own sites and let her speak, then offer constructive criticism in spaces where we can moderate away the haters. This deprives them of a space to vent, and allows her message to enter the marketplace of ideas to live or die by their own merits.

But the haters found an easy way around this: upload the identical video elsewhere, so they could downrate it to shit and talk about rape all they want. It may not remove the original video from the public discourse, but it sure makes them feel better about their tiny and insignificant lives.

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Xbox Live to crack down on sexism

So Halo 4 is being released tomorrow (what, is there something more important going on that I don’t know about?). Thanks to the recent acknowledgement by 343 Industries and Microsoft that half their potential market was being weeded out by the “early adopters” who are defending their territory via terrible sexist remarks, rape threats and abuse, it appears that the folks responsible for the Xbox Live service have had it with that nonsense behaviour and are about to start dropping the banhammer on their users.

Apparently this is a zero tolerance policy too, so if you’re found to be making sexist comments, don’t expect to get away with just a slap on the wrist. Wolfkill and Ross say that developers have a responsibility to break through gender stereotypes and stamp out sexism in the games industry too. It’s sad that it has to come to Xbox Live bans just to get people to act civil toward one another, but that’s unfortunately what you get when everyone is hidden behind a veil of anonymity.

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