Anita Sarkeesian released a new video the other day, so of course Anita Sarkeesian had to go stay with a friend the other night because she got such direct graphic threats complete with her actual address attached.
Since the project launched on Kickstarter way back in 2012, the gaming community has been treated to an incessant, deeply paranoid campaign against Tropes vs. Women generally and Sarkeesian personally. This includes a flood of violent comments and emails, videos documenting ways in which she’s not a “real gamer,” a game in which you can punch her in the face, and a proposed documentary devoted to exposing the “lies” and “campaign of misinformation” from what is, again, a collection of opinions about video games. Also, now, she’s apparently spent the night with friends after contacting law enforcement about “some very scary threats” against her and her family. She’s published a page of extremely violent sexual threats from the person who apparently drove her to call the police; in it, the user mentions the location of her apartment and threatens to kill her parents, who the user names and claims to be able to find.
That shouldn’t happen.
This is an unusual low in the Anita Sarkeesian saga, but death threats in general are more or less par for the course for many women (and men) online. They can easily cross the line from bluster to menace — UK journalist Laurie Penny, for instance, contacted police in 2013 after being sent a very specific bomb threat. In this case, the vitriol might have been compounded by the support her latest video received from popular developers and media figures. Joss Whedon and William Gibson, among others, mentioned it, and Tim Schafer of Double Fine — known for Psychonauts and the Kickstarter-funded Broken Age — spent several hours fielding responses after urging everyone in game development to watch it “from start to finish.”
So it becomes imperative to underline how right she is by performing the whole violent-threat dance that exemplifies the kind of thinking she’s talking about.
The threats against Sarkeesian have become a nasty backdrop to her entire project — and her life. If the trolls making them hoped for attention, they’ve gotten it. They’ve also inexorably linked criticism of her work, valid or not, with semi-delusional vigilantism, and arguably propelled Tropes vs. Women to its current level of visibility. If a major plank of your platform is that misogyny is a lie propagated by Sarkeesian and other “social justice warriors,” it might help to not constantly prove it wrong.
Wouldn’t it be nice if misogyny were just a big fairy tale?