So let me make a few limited points. The tactics of harassment, threats of violence, foul misogyny, and stalking have absolutely no legitimate place in any discourse. Having read about what has happened to several women, who have merely dared to exercise their First Amendment rights, I can only say it’s been one of those rare stories that still has the capacity to shock me. I know it isn’t fair to tarnish an entire tendency with this kind of extremism, but the fact that this tactic seemed to be the first thing that some gamergate advocates deployed should send off some red flashing lights as to the culture it is defending.
All well and good, but…there’s a “but” coming. It doesn’t really need to be a “but”. And unfortunately, Sullivan throws out a real stinker of a “but”.
Second, there’s a missing piece of logic, so far as I have managed to discern, in the gamergate campaign. The argument seems to be that some feminists are attempting to police or control a hyper-male culture of violence, speed, competition and boobage. And in so far as that might be the case, my sympathies do indeed lie with the gamers. The creeping misandry in a lot of current debates – see “Affirmative Consent” and “Check Your Privilege” – and the easy prejudices that define white and male and young as suspect identities (because sexism!) rightly offend many men (and women).
There’s an atmosphere in which it has somehow become problematic to have a classic white, straight male identity, and a lot that goes with it. I’m not really a part of that general culture – indifferent to boobage, as I am, and bored by violence. But I don’t see why it cannot have a place in the world. I believe in the flourishing of all sorts of cultures and subcultures and have long been repulsed by the nannies and busybodies who want to police them – whether from the social right or the feminist left.
Now why wouldn’t anyone want to tone down a culture of violence? And while boobs are lovely, why shouldn’t people keep in mind that they are attached to human beings? This is a very peculiar argument, to suggest that it would be a bad thing to discourage violence and sexism…or at least, to keep it confined to fantasy worlds.
And there’s something even more appalling here. Look what Sullivan unthinkingly does: a culture of “violence, speed, competition and boobage” is “hyper-male”. Expecting affirmative consent and that we all recognize our cultural advantages is “misandry”. And somehow all of these things are tangled up in the “classic white, straight male identity”.
I am a “classic white, straight male”. I think I’m offended that Sullivan believes that I’m supposed to embrace the assholishness of the gamergaters, that somehow my sex and sexual orientation and skin color should make me find common cause with a mob of smug jerks who find amusement in disparaging and objectifying women. I’ve got news for Sullivan: that crap doesn’t go with my identity. The idea that sexism is part of the classic white, straight male identity is a perfect example of the toxic masculinity that feminists have been deploring.