Online Abuse and Threats Drive Sarkeesian to Flee Home
Anita Sarkeesian is the creator of Feminist Frequency, a video web-series that critically explores the representations of women in pop culture narratives. Under Feminist Frequency is a series called Tropes vs Women in Games, which highlights research about how woman are treated and sexism can be portrayed through video games.
This series has brought Sarkeesian much attention, both positive and negative. But last night the negative proved far too much as she was driven out of her home by abuse and threats from critics of her videos. She has posted some of the tweets that she received with a 'trigger warning'.
"I usually don’t share the really scary stuff. But it’s important for folks to know how bad it gets."
She is certainly not lying, the tweets mentioned are far too vile to even put in this article. Luckily this abuse did not go any further than mere tweets and posts, even through she was driven out of her home, no physical harm came to her:
"I'm safe. Authorities have been notified. Staying with friends tonight. I'm not giving up. But this harassment of women in tech must stop!"
Anita has also, not long before, been shown a much more positive response to her insight into the misogyny of the gaming world, and not just from other women. Acclaimed writer, producer and director, Joss Whedon, tweeted some very positive words about Feminist Frequency, in particular the videos about gaming, which suggests that others to indulge in these informative videos as well. He also stuck up for Anita during the online abuse attacks.
The latest video from the Tropes Vs Woman in Games series, "Women as Background Decoration," explains how
largely insignificant non-playable female characters whose sexuality or victimhood is exploited as a way to infuse edgy, gritty or racy flavoring into game worlds. These sexually objectified female bodies are designed to function as environmental texture while titillating presumed straight male players. Sometimes they're created to be glorified furniture but they are frequently programmed as minimally interactive sex objects to be used and abused.
This video has gotten much praise and is being shared around for its detailed explanations and blunt reality of misogynistic scenes within many popular games. It's a real eye-opener for both genders!
Even though these threats are primarily online, this is still very serious.
Why people feel the need to say such vile things at all is beyond me, especially since the only reason for them (that can be seen) is because Anita is discussing a controversial topic and her observations are based off video references from games that are beloved. Some may see a criticism of a favorite game as an attack on themselves. Sarkeesian's videos are not hostile, but instead she uses her series to make statements about observable tropes regarding the differences in the treatment between men and women, not just in video games, but within media in general.
Sarkeesian seems to be sticking to what she believes in even though she realises that such threats will continue. She is currently not planning to stop her video series.