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Anita Sarkeesian's project to expose stereotypes in video games attracts a maelstrom of hate.
Tags: feminism video games
There is no meaningful difference, but for some reason people will bend over backwards to defend the right of trolls to be anonymous bastards.
The "greater context" is the way society at large treats women, & the only real way the Internet comes into it is how is enables, distills & thus amplifies it. So the problem just got simultaneously simpler & harder: raise little boys & girls to value women the way they do men, & our problem here is solved! Easy, right?
It's been quite a long time now, and they don't seem to get bored very easily.
A glimmer of light on the 4 chan screencap, in that many of the comments are supportive, though I fully expect a good many not shown were definitely not.
I find myself baffled by the attitude of so many other male gamers. It was brought home to me by the Cross Assault affair, I think, and some of the examples of 'wit' that are on display at http://fatuglyorslutty.com/ Saddening and disappointing. I wish I had an answer.
As ever, there is always "John Gabriel's Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory" to fall back on: http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2004/03/19
I find it alarming that you think you can argue for an assault on free speech simply by cherry picking the worst comments from youtube, and attempting to conjure up some kind of evil conspiracy against women.
No, it isn't nice when people are abusive on the internet; but that is the inevitable price you pay for an arena of true free speech. Essentially, with boundaries and consequences removed you are finding out what people are really like. If you don't like what you see, don't try to trash the medium in some tantrum of political correctness.
There is value to having a truly uncensored space, and it annoys me greatly to see people expressing a desire to close down or restrict that space because it offends their sense of good manners. For a supposedly progressive lot, feminists come across awfully Victorian in their morals sometimes.
The problem with this argument is that you are not finding out what people are really like if many of them are afraid to speak up.
"assault on free speech"?!
Let's be clear. Free speech is 'I do not agree with what you are saying, blogger, and free speech means that I can express my opinion on the matter which is x'. Free speech is NOT 'I do not agree with what you are saying, blogger, and free speech gives me the right to instigate a hate campaign against you, insult you via every means my tiny brain can think of and generally be threatening'.
If I gave a talk in a lecture hall and someone in the audience disagreed with my conclusions, would you say that person has the right to follow me with a crowd of a people, stick abusive posters all over my home and contact my employer to try and get me fired? No. Because that would be f*cking stupid. Just like this behaviour outside of the internet would be upsetting and punishable under law, so morons like this should be held to account.
If free speech does not include the ability to insult people, it is not free speech. Leaving abusive comments on youtube isn't equivalent to plastering posters all over someone's house, your youtube channel isn't your property. If someone doesn't like what you've said they should be able to call up your employer and try to get you fired, doesn't mean your employer has to listen to them.
There's a difference between free speech and hate speech.
I had a very intelligent retort regarding the United states' position on hate crimes and hate speeches as actual crimes and so on... but then I read your username and I realized what a stupid waste of my time that would be.
I could attempt to translate it into 4chan, if you'd like? Though I doubt you're actually a member of that forum, and are only looking for someone to notice your clever little wordplay. 4chan4life. ha. I guess I fed right in to that one.
I don't think "true free speech" is what you think it is. I'm OK with people saying whatever they want to, but there need to be consequences.
In real life, you can call me a b*tch or a wh*re (maybe even without the asterisks), but you have to have that attached to your name, and your face, and your identity. You may think that the trade-off is worth it. But there is a trade-off.
Similarly, if you make a death threat in real life, you might expect a visit from the rozzers. Why should the internet be a consequence-free playground?
As for the "evil conspiracy against women", if you can't see the breadth and intensity of sexism that's demonstrated by these comments, well, I just don't know what to say to you.
Congratulations, you've somehow failed to grasp the prospect of the internet allowing for both an end to sexism and the ability to support anonymity! Give yourself a hand!
Lets start with your first statement, here. "True free speech"? Which is this, a 'no true Scotsman' or a 'splitting hairs' fallacy? Maybe 'moving the goalposts'? Point is, hate speech, short of inciting actual violence, is still protected. Mind you, indecency laws and influencing minors not your own are usually at play, but for a broad stroke, hate speech is free speech, even if you don't like it. Every opinion posted was just that, an opinion. To conflate opinions on another board with actual threats to a person is to claim that they're all one group of people. They're not. Both youtube and 4chan have thousands upon thousands of unique visitors daily. And as an aside, that first 4chan screenshot? Clearly not the default layout of the site, someone goes there with some frequency to install modifications of that sort.
In real life, I'd be apt to call you such names, because taking up a cause without fully comprehending the repercussions and ramifications of a narrow-minded and non-pragmatic approach can cause far more harm to one's cause than all the hate speech against it. This all, given my sensitivities to actual women, the disabled, minorities, religions, etc. which leads to my third point.
Making threats in real life can also be cast from the shadows, cloaked in anonymity. Just because the internet gives a convenient way to do something doesn't mean it wasn't done before computer networking existed. More so, just as I have stated in the previous paragraph, I claimed that you're not a woman. By calling you out, you'd take away my privacy to keep my name hidden, but in doing so, you'd expose yourself to everyone else that didn't do as I did, who are still anonymous. It would be "taking one for the team" so they say, but when you're bombarded by actual hate as opposed to convenient hate, availing yourself against a mob hurts more than uncovering the one person who called you out.
As for this "conspiracy against women", the sexism and hate is indicative of the culture and environment in which such people were brought up. Defeating this problem can't be done by quelling the already set-in-way folk; that's to protect the society from their actions, of which most of the internet won't do unless it can be done from in front of their computers. The way to best solve it is to transform the formative to see that this issue is something that can be changed, and to work toward changing it from the ground up.
Personally, I was considering donating to this kickstarter, but then I read the rest of the article, and the affront to citizens' privacy at large and thought against it. Rest assured, it's not because I'm insensitive to the plight of sexism, it's because someone has a stupid opinion and I'm not one to support stupid opinions, in whole or in part.
Helen I appreciate that sexism on the internet is your particular hobby horse but clearly the internet - or twitter - or whatever is not 'consequence free' as witnessed by your own report of the 'Mensch' troll. Other examples like the prosecution of those naming the footballer rape victim and the bradford airport joker suggest that really all you are saying is that people shouldn't say mean things without having the guts to put their name to it. And to posit this you use examples from clearly deranged people and suggest this is the norm? The internet is a big place - and idiots tend to be the noisiest no matter how few they are. I for one am sick of legislation being geared towards stopping the most stupid in society from doing things. If as intelligernt people we can't recognise and ignore the idiots without moaning or banning, then perhaps you are one of the idiots?
Not you personally by the way !
Take a look at the YouTube comment thread. This isn't a few cherry-picked comments, it's wave after wave in what seems to be an organised campaign. Add in the attempts to use YouTube's and Kickstarter's abuse systems to get Sarkeesian shut down, and the attack on her Wikipedia entry from multiple accounts, and you get something that is, in itself, an attempt to suppress free speech.
If I walk down the street and someone shouts 'knobhead', that's free speech. If I walk down the street and a crowd surrounds me, all shouting 'knobhead', stopping me walking, and shoving and pushing me, in an attempt to make me give up walking and go home, that's harassment. There's a difference.
The fact that you would compare physical assault with being called a few names, illustrates just how thin-skinned you are.
Except that for women, verbal assault and harassment are constantly paired with actual physical violence. Being called a wh*re, sl*t, c*nt, etc., are symptoms of a larger culture where women are often harassed and told to shut up and deal with it (being hollared and whistled at one the street, being told that their sexual assault is their own fault because of what they were wearing, etc. These aren't things that happen just "once in a while."). There's being called a few names and then there's being threatened with rape and violence, which happen to women every day, and which women are taught from a very early age to always be prepared for. If a guy is walking behind me, I notice it, and I don't stop noticing it until he passes me. If I'm out at night, I'm constantly looking around. If I see groups of men at night, I might not assume that they mean me harm, but the thought is always in the back of my mind. ALWAYS. I'm being careful and cautious to avoid violence and sexual assault every day of my life, even if it's just in small ways, so no, being called a few names really isn't the same as threats of rape and violence. Those things come from a culture where men can use these things to intimidate, dominate and harass women because they are very real threats to women. That's the way these scumbags chose to exert their power over this blogger. That's how they chose to intimidate, harass and hurl hate at her. Because that's how you get a woman to shut up - you threaten her with violence, something that will never terrify and intimidate men to the same degree because they're not taught to fear it, and they're far less often the victims of it. That's something we need to ACTUALLY talk about, not just pretend it doesn't exist because pfft, get over it lady!
Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can lead to mental breakdowns.
Ah, there's always someone apologizing for mouth-frothing hatred and bile under the banner of "free speech." Sorry, but that doesn't cut it, and even if it did, you may want to look up exactly what free speech means. There is no state here infringing on anyone's speech. There's no disproportionate power silencing a vocal group. There are only people willing to call each other out on their ignorance and hatred. To complain about it is to stifle *their* speech, not be stifled.
I have learned over the years that those who complain the most about "political correctness" are truly lamenting their inability to be complete and total jerks to whomever they choose and anyone with whom they disagree without also being forced to face the consequences of their actions and their words. We see through you. Move on.
So, you apparently missed the part where this article was cheering on state intervention in the Internet? You don't see a free speech issue because you don't want to see one.
I don't defend being unpleasant to people; I am just mature enough to realise it is an inevitable consequences of having free speech, like pornography. It isn't worth stamping on free speech just for the sake of making the most thin-skinned people feel safe and comfortable.
This woman was threatened with rape and murder. That is not an acceptable form of free speech.
Then what is an acceptable form? None of you here complaining about it could draw the line somewhere because attempting to do so is a futile effort in itself. In the end, it's just a bunch of people on the internet getting riled up about something that's also futile because of how a free market works, whether or not she's right.
Many have asserted here that those who purchase video games are the drivers of morality, like whether it is okay to threaten a person's life, because they have spent money. DaveH claims that opposing harrasment and intimidation is "futile because of how a free market works, whether or not she's right." I'm surprised at how many people, feminist or otherwise, belive that we "vote with our dollar." Free Market economies and capitalism are not systems of government, they are economic systems. And, as a woman who makes the standard 70% or less that a man in my position makes, I say thank God! I get one vote, Donald Trump gets one. Any old, fat, hairy, male billionaire who wants to does not get to purchase our beliefs. That may terrify men more than anything. If women start to make more, and very very much more than men, men will get behind democracy in a heartbeat. And not just the Anonymous kind.
What you fail to understand is that the use of hate speech, threats and bullying to terrify and intimidate people into silence or away from certain topics is a far bigger threat to free speech than any legal sanction.
Imagine this is not the internet but a public square. One woman stands on a soapbox and expresses an idea. She is instantly surrounded by an army of 5,000 angry people yelling the worst kind of abuse at her in an attempt to shut her up.
Yes, there's a free speech issue there. But not the one you think.
Strongly agree, Ally. You've hit the nail on the head.
Where in the article above does is a desire to close down or restrict the uncensored space of the internet expressed?
The article simply describes what happened. It doesn't attempt to prescribe a solution.
That is appalling, but it also occurs to me to wonder why these people harbour this pointless animosity ? I wouldn't for one moment try to apologise for it, but is it symptomatic of oppression or disenfranchisment, or are they simply horrible people ?
my personal theory is male insecurity/worthlessness. Men who are otherwise disenfranchised in society, who lack status and power are threatened by women who are confident and self-possessed because they do not fulfil the traditional position of inferiority that would give them some personal boost. I also have a feeling it's to do with their internal recognition that they are not able to have the sexy woman of their desires in real life, and so they lash out at women who are successful and who otherwise wouldn't need or have them.
That's /r9k/, not /v/.
So far as I can tell, you are completely wrong. It appears to me that you have no experience with the communities we're talking about, such as 4chan (I'd like to know if this is entirely 4chan).
This is something you will have to learn about internet speech in general, but especially about 4chan's /b/ board. They are not saying what they say because they mean it or believe it. They are saying it because their culture is defined by being immune to anything and everything someone might say about you. Realizing that point should help you understand that your thought process about their motivations is completely wrong.
I can't claim to speak for these communities, no one can, but I can give you my idea of how it works. I sincerely doubt that any large numbers of actual anti-women believers are behind these posts. (though they could hide in them easily for sure) Rather, behind them you will find a philosophy that says people need to be thick skinned enough not to react to anything thrown at them, because in an anonymous world whatever can be said, will be said. These people are not enacting an organized spree of insults because they believe in what is being said, but because they believe people who react to it are weak and need to be made to face the reality of anonymous discourse.
So far as I can tell, 4chan /b/ is about embodying the essence of unrestricted anonymous expression, including and most especially the parts that people are uncomfortable with. A classic /b/ exercise is to find something that makes others uncomfortable and post it as broadly as possible. There is something of a philosophy that doing this allows you to face the worst of reality and not flinch, which you should not in their view because it is reality.
I believe (and have seen) that /b/ would make equally hateful campaigns against men, boys, and in fact anyone who puts their feelings out online. Their view is that if you make yourself vulnerable online, someone is going to victimize you, because it can be done anonymously. That's actually true, but less frequent than they believe.
Believing that the posters actually agree with what they write is a mistake. Rather understand that they are representing their philosophy that people need to be able to put up with anything, because what can be said, will be said.
It's probably posters from /v/, not /b/. I think your entire argument is wrong - there are plenty of spaces on 4chan that lashes out at feminism, women, and feminist critique. Specific feminists or the general "b*tches and whores" attitude. And I think the people get the angriest are those that feel they're being "bullied" by feminism, because feminists will say what they like is sexist or dumb or whatever. I've seen some anons on 4chan admit to that. There's such a huge attachment to the thing they like that that they can't stand criticism. They're tired of hearing about it, they're angry - it has nothing to with someone being vulnerable, but entirely to do with feminism and just general hatred of critique.
Their lashing out is pretty much totally pathetic, and no, it would not have happened to a guy with that same level of vitriol. Guys don't threaten to rape other guys - because of course you'd have to be naive to think a significant portion of women attacked Sarkeesian. It was probably all dudes.
It seems to me you've constructed a spurious hypothesis to justify bullying. If you're right then it's merely a fatuous "community" of mutual insult.
While I am not a poster on an of the 4chan boards, I do check up on them pretty often, and SYNAPSE 's post explains the mindset of the regular posters perfectly (especially those on /b/). This is in no way a ' spurious hypothesis", it is actually the majority of those posters think.
If you really examine it though, it is the exact same thing that close-nit groups of males will do. "Guy-friends" will call each other names, insult each other to the greatest extent that they can, and "threaten" each other (e.g. 'Shut up or I'll kick your *insert body part here*). If someone takes offence, they will be told to man up. Things like this are a pretty common occurrence with guys.
It makes perfect sense that, they would continue to do this when moved to an online setting. Of course it will be done to a greater extent online, where you don't have to worry about being punched in the face. When girls join the same online communities that this is happening in, it seems like common sense that these insults and such would be turned against them. If you look closer at these communities (on /b/ and in other places) you will notice that girls that can "take it" and even "dish it out" are accepted just a readily as any of the guys.
I am not stating that it is a good or bad thing, just that SYNAPSE had a pretty good summary of what goes on.
You are making excuses which have nothing to do with what happened her.
This alleged "boys culture" of allegedly friendly hazing 4chan has nothing to do with how with how these trolls (which were not merely 4chan) attack victims.
She didn't engage 4chan at all. Some group of angry men, some on 4chan, targeted her for a sustained attack of threats and fraud in attempt to get her projects shut down and drive her offline. If this was done by a foreign nation or a group like the national front, it would be considered an act of political oppression.
It has nothing to do with boys insulting each other, it's intolerant aggression just like the taliban, except with lulz worship instead of religion as the excuse.
Bringing up the profanity laced ribbing on the 4chan boards is an attempt to hide the real issue.
If 4chan wants to keep their 'punish the weak' philosophy going on their own board where everybody is there by consent and can leave any time, fine, who cares? It's not how you actually make weak people strong - you can't bully somebody out of their vulnerabilities, the most you can do is force them to develop various unhealthy ways of hiding them - but if that's their game, that's up to them.
But this was not hazing a new member. This wasn't a free-for-all where everyone is equally in the line of fire and equally able to fire back. This was a bunch of people hiding their own identities and banding together in massive numbers against a single, non-anonymous outsider, a woman who had done nothing to bother them except, y'know, claim the right to say what she thought even if some people don't like it, and who couldn't possibly have the time or the resources to retaliate in their approved manner even if she'd wanted to.
If they just do it to each other by mutual consent, no problem. If they do it on an even playing field where everyone is equally free to retaliate, that's fair. But if they use their numbers to overwhelm a single person, it is Not. The. Same. Thing.
And while they have a perfect right to believe whatever dumb philosophy they choose, if they run around trying to impose this philosophy of theirs on everybody else, then they're intolerant zealots trying to destroy anyone who doesn't share their faith. That ... is not usually a blow for free speech.
But even that's assuming that they aren't really misogynists because they pick on other people as well. And that's just nonsense. A misogynist is not someone who loves everybody but women and goes around wearing a T-shirt saying 'I hate women because I am a misogynist'. Misogynists are people, and people are complex. Sexism is rightly condemned in our society, and consequently anybody sexist is obliged to come up with various fig-leaves. Like the one you just waved.
Look at the basic facts:
1. They identified a victim for no other reason than the fact that she was a woman talking about feminist issues on a subject that has a strong boys-club ethos.
2. They attacked that woman using every misogynist method you can think of.
Anyone who thinks that is okay is a misogynist. Yes, even if they think it's funny. Yes, even if they think they don't really hate women. Those are distinctions that only matter to them, not to their victim, and to prioritise their distinctions over hers is just joining them in seeing Sarkeesian as nothing more than a ball to bat around - in other words, supporting them in objectifying a woman. Anyone who thinks it's okay to sexually degrade a woman for talking about women's rights is a person who thinks it's okay use sexism to hurt a woman simply because she's a woman who won't act subordinate.
Why in the world should we take these people's word when they say they aren't misogynists? News flash: nobody identifies as a misogynist. There's always some kind of excuse.
If you want to understand misogyny, you can't listen to the excuses. You have to look at the actions, because that's where it shows itself. If people act like misogynists and set out to hurt a woman using misogyny as a weapon, then they're misogynists. They make like to believe that they aren't, but they're kidding nobody but themselves and you.
I agree, and feminists are upset that they are all ugly dykes. Or not.
I'd like to point out that a theory as ridiculous as this only further fuels arguments. Does nobody have the capacity to have a serious conversation without sounding like politicians because of all the rhetoric they spew out?
If there's one positive thing that could be salvaged here it's that all the abuse demonstrates just how necessary such a project is, if this is what some people really think under cover of anonymity, about someone just voicing an opinion.
In its own way, a ton of useful evidence presented itself before the project even started. Way to go, The Internet.
Helen Lewis is deputy editor of the New Statesman. She tweets @helenlewis