Did somebody say something about bullying?
Helen Lewis did, in a New Statesman blog post about the online harassment of Anita Sarkeesian. She displays a collection of the vicious stuff, much of it visual, so go there to see it.
The most amazing item is an interactive game inviting players to punch Sarkeesian in the face. When they comply, her face is turned to beaten pulp.
Sarkeesian is rare in sharing so much of the harassment that she has been subjected to — and it’s a brave choice for her to make. Every time I write about this subject, I get a few emails from women who’ve been through the same thing (and I’m sure there are men, too). They tell me much the same story: this happened to them, but they don’t want to talk publicly about it, because they don’t want to goad the bullies further.
Also (speaking for myself), because it’s not fun to talk about. It’s ugly and squalid and depressing and it puts you right off human beings. It also creeps you out personally if you’re the object of it. It would be nice if people who keep insisting that I’m a Feminazi Femistasi totalitarian member of the Sisterhood of the Oppressed who told big fat lies about getting two weird emails that could have been advice or mockery or threats – it would be nice if those people could keep that in mind. It would be nice if they could spare a few seconds from ranting about the mythical beast called FTBullies to remember that being a target of dribbling misogynist hatred like that creeps you out. (It would even be nice – but this is obviously far too much to expect – if they could spare a few seconds to formulate the thought that adding to an existing flood of dribbling misogynist hatred might be kind of a stupid move.)
If you were Anita Sarkeesian, how would you feel right now? She’s somebody with a big online presence through her website, YouTube channel and social media use. All of that has been targeted by people who – and I can’t say this enough – didn’t like her asking for money to make feminist videos.
I think Sarkeesian has been incredibly courageous in sharing what’s happened to her. Those obscene pictures are intended to shame her, to reduce her to her genitals, and to intimidate her.
And that’s creepy, you see. It’s not creepy because we (we Sisterhood of the Oppressed) love being victims. It’s creepy because it’s creepy. The claim that being creeped out by it is something that feminazis do because it’s so much fun to feel like a victim is incredibly insulting. I fucking hate feeling like a victim. I loathe it. It’s not how I see myself at all.
But it isn’t my fault. It isn’t my doing. Here’s a newsflash: anybody can be turned into a victim. We’re all vulnerable in that way, because we’re not made of steel. In the first world most of us are lucky enough to be able to ignore that fact most of the time – but as a fundamental fact it’s still true. (Consider Chris Clarke, who had his Jeep stolen twice in two weeks; the second time, three days ago, it was totaled.)
It happened to Sarkeesian for no real reason. A lesser version has been happening to Rebecca Watson for no real reason. A much lesser version has been happening to me for no real reason. It can happen to anyone. This is indeed intimidating, as it’s meant to be.