Anita Sarkeesian and Why I Got So Much Trouble on my Mind

October 16, 2014 § 7 Comments

I got so much trouble on my mind, like Chuck D. back in 1990.  Anita Sarkeesian is a feminist gamer, and critic of gamer culture.  I’m not a gamer, but I have female friends who are, and I have friends who design video games, including women.  They all report a culture of wider misogyny.  But I’m not here to lambaste gamers, I’m here to point out misogyny is a deep-seated cultural issue.  It permeates every corner of our culture, it’s regarded as acceptable by far too many, both men and women.  Too many of us stand around and watch it happen, and we do not call it out for what it is.  We do not stand up.

Men have a particular moral imperative to stand up in the face of misogyny.  Why?  Because misogynists are also men.  Men threaten women.  Men rape women.  Men kill women.  And spare me the “men’s movement.”  It’s nothing but a sad-sack attempt by a rearguard of men, upset that their access to patriarchal privilege is under threat.  Of course, that threat is only in their tiny little minds.

Sarkeesian was scheduled to give a talk on misogyny and gamer culture at the Utah State University.  Then some pathetic little man emailed an anonymous threat promising a “Montreal-style massacre” if USU allowed her talk to go ahead.  I’m not going to quote this pathetic little man’s threat here.  But I will remind readers that on 6 December 1989, one misogynist opened fire at the École Polytechnique de Montréal and shot 27 people, killing 14.  All of the dead were women.  All of them.  Why did he do this?  Because he claimed that feminists had ‘ruined’ his life.  So, too, did the anonymous man who threatened Sarkeesian at USU.

Sarkeesian wasn’t even told about the threat against her life by USU.  She read about it after landing in Utah.  Moreover, USU and the Utah police were unable to provide protection for her, as Utah is an open-carry state, meaning it is entirely legal to carry concealed weapons onto a university campus.  To prevent weapons on campus, or to have people check their guns at the door would have violated their Second Amendment rights.  I’m not sure that’s even true, but that’s an argument for another day.  So Sarkeesian cancelled.

I can’t say I blame her.  Who wants to be a martyr?  Especially for something as basic and simple as civil and human rights and the right of women to be treated equally by society.  But, this also lets the crazies win.  This lets the misogynists win.

I have had death threats in the past, in response to articles I published on a now-defunct London-based magazine website.  The threats against me were not credible, so I ignored them.  I have had a variety of threats against my person and my employment on Twitter.  But, again, they weren’t credible, so I ignored them.  But this is what the bullies do.  If they don’t like what you’re saying, they threaten you.  If you’re a woman, they threaten to rape you.  They threaten to kill you.  The threats Sarkeesian felt was very real.  Hell, she’s already been the target of some asshole’s idea of a joke with a video game that allows players the chance to punch her in the face over and over again.

We cannot let the crazies win.  And Sarkeesian continues to speak out about the threat to her life.  I applaud her.  If the crazies win, we lose civilisation.  Someone’s Second Amendment rights do NOT trump my First Amendment rights.  And, arguably, USU, as a state institution, violated Sarkeesian’s First Amendment rights.  There is a lot of talk about “rights” in the US, the rights guaranteed to us by the Bill of Rights.  But nowhere does it say that anyone’s rights trump those of someone else’s.  Not in the Bill of Rights, not in the voluminous jurisprudence that has developed surrounding the Constitution.

And yet, I haven’t seen a politician come out in support of Sarkeesian.  Nor have I read a thing about an attempt to find the man who made this anonymous threat in the first place.  He sent an email.  It’s not that hard to trace it.

Welcome to the Terrordome indeed.

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