If internet journalism has taught me anything positive, my headline should have you wondering who Anita Sarkeesian, Zoe Quinn, and Brianna Wu are and where the heck their nudes are. To borrow a catchphrase from Mr. Dwayne Johnson:
IT DOESN’T MATTER WHERE THEIR NUDES ARE
(as long as they were not leaked)
To pull back the zoom here, Jennifer Lawrence wasn’t the only woman done wrong by a bunch of online troglodytes this past month. What happened to J. Law is just the most publicized fraction of the horror inflicted on women for simply trying to carry out normal lives online.
Anita Sarkeesian is a video game journalist, and her YouTube series Feminist Frequency brings a level of intellectual criticism to a medium often devoid of it. Now, when I write the phrase “video games journalist,” many might be puzzled, because the top-selling video games magazines list includes titles owned and operated by the companies that made the consoles for the games in question!
We are past the age of Nintendo Power and Official Playstation Magazine. From The Escapist to the Isometric podcast to Kill Screen to Ms. Sarkeesian’s work, video games have reached that point in the history of a form of art where people cover it without being on the company dole, and write from analytic angles.
You would assume that in 2014, analytical criticism wouldn’t be a scary concept to a bunch of nerds.
Thoroughly researched pieces, examining an industry the author is clearly passionate about, should be encouraged. Unfortunately, when Anita Sarkeesian decides to explain the rampant sexism throughout modern video games, in her series Feminist Frequency, she is met with harassment and death threats.
Below is the most recent of her analyses, Women as Background Decoration:
For the mere crime of producing these videos, which the Reddit-lurking cromagnon set of video gamers claim are a part of a mission to ruin their culture, Sarkeesian is branded the devil, as is anybody who she associates with or is on her side.
For anybody who would wonder what kind of person would publish these videos, I have an answer: someone who enjoys video games. Here’s the list of the games referenced in her first piece:
Assassin’s Creed 2 (2009)
Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood (2010)
Bioshock 2 (2010)
Dead Island (2011)
Dragon Age: Origins (2009)
Fable 2 (2008)
Far Cry 3 (2012)
God of War 3 (2008)
Grand Theft Auto IV (2008)
Grand Theft Auto V (2013)
Hitman: Absolution (2012)
Hitman: Blood Money (2006)
Kane & Lynch (2007)
L.A. Noire (2011)
Mafia II: Joe’s Adventures (2010)
Metro: Last Light (2013)
No More Heroes (2008)
Papo & Yo (2012)
Red Dead Redemption (2010)
Saints Row (2006)
Super Mario Galaxy 2 (2010)
The Darkness II (2012)
The Witcher (2007)
The Witcher 2 (2011)
Watch Dogs (2014)
While women are frequently attacked as Fake Geeks, how many men care this much about the medium, to compile a reel tracking that many titles in modern era, to thoroughly explain a criticism?
But because she made this thoroughly researched documentation as a woman, layered it with excellent feminist analysis, a mountain of horrible was summoned to her inbox.
Now, before we get to the worst of the internet community, I’d like to share a brief moment of positive thought I heard today, from Nathan Cocks of The Fourth Player, a video games podcast:
If we want our hobby to be taken seriously,
we have to accept it’s going to be criticized
and that criticism is not bad it’s good;
it’s good to actually be critical of the content.
I’ve never included trigger warnings before, but what’s about to follow is unquestionably horrible.
I thought YouTube comments were the worst, but this really proves that some people don’t deserve the internet.
The redacted sections, obviously, are Sarkeesian’s home addresses:
And it’s more than just that one psycho:
All that, led to Sarkeesian, justifiably, abandoning her home for the time being for her own safety.
“Can you believe that Sarkeesian thought she had the right to demonstrate the rampant anti-women trends in video games? How dare she taint video games and try and make them less fun,” these trolls cry out.
Even the police are approaching this all the wrong way:
Nick Bilton, tech writer for the New York Times tweeted this now widely shared dumb-take on the topic of Jennifer Lawrence’s nudes:
Way to point the spotlight away from the problem, dummy.
Go a step further down the k-hole of Recent Hate Directed at Women and you find the story of Zoe Quinn vs. The Vocal Misogynist Sect of Video Game Culture.
Ms. Quinn’s original sin was, well, I’m not sure there actually was one.
She’s the creator of Depression Quest, a game that teaches users about depression. It’s good that she understands the phenomenon, though, because of the horrors she’s been experienced for months.
The recent horrific situation that Ms. Quinn is suffering is tied to a temper tantrum of a blog post by her ex-boyfriend. In said post, he implied that she’s had questionable relationships with the video game press.
This is where the hashtag #GamerGate started. The horde of malicious MRA whackadoos that spend every day trolling, found this as their cause.
Falsely believing that they are the victims of reverse sexism, they somehow were able to find the time to map out a conspiracy you’ll see flow-charted out below. A conspiracy from the video games press & writing industry thats predominantly male.
To try and simplify, this chart alleges Ms. Quinn bargained for good press in exchange for sex (that claim has been shot down), and a giant pro-feminist conspiracy exists to ruin video games forever. What I know is that she’s had her privacy ripped from her, nude photos leaked, and suffered a terrorizing mountain of death-and-rape-threats.
So angry are these self-branded Gamers (a term that no self-respecting player of video games would touch with a ten-foot-pole) that they are instructing each other to edit their computer settings in order to boycott the majority of the video game press.
How dare Zoe Quinn be supported by the who’s who of video game writers? How dare feminism touch this digital man-cave society?
Brianna Wu, the head of development at Giant Spacekat, makers of the new iOS game Revolution 60, is one of the most outspoken voices when it comes to the nonsense she and her peers suffer for their want to make video games. In other words, she loves video games so much, she’s willing to put up with the dregs of society in order to be an active member of that world.
With her strong voice on the aforementioned Isometric podcast, her twitter account, and an amazing article for Polygon, Wu speaks truth to privilege, regarding on the harassment women face in the world of video games. As you might expect, she has had many metric tons of crap thrown in her direction. Crap from the same kinds of guys who attack Quinn, Sarkeesian, and any other woman that crosses their crosshairs.
Fortunately, Wu takes none of their shit.
Follow Friday, or #ff, is a twitter hashtag game where we suggest someone our followers should also follow. Last week, Wu was my Follow Friday pick, but the day of the week shouldn’t stop you from following her or reading her timeline.
Just because only one of these three women had their nudes released without their consent, doesn’t mean they aren’t all suffering from the root problem that hit Jennifer Lawrence and that laundry list of female celebrities.
Many men in the world see the world, and the women in it, as their property. Culture is theirs, the female body is theirs, and somehow this is either going to push the conversation over a cliff, or lead to something changing from those in power.
It’s even gotten to the point where most people are assumed to have searched out the photos of what Jennifer Lawrence looks like naked, not even pausing to wonder if it’s any of their business, or how this makes them complicit in the violation of her rights.
Over 2,000 video game developers have done the smallest action they can take: signing a letter to end intolerance.
The studio that produce the Saint’s Row franchise, which you might remember from Anita Sarkeesian’s reference list, has admitted that Ms. Sarkeesian is right.
Twitter, in the wake of users harassing Robin Williams’ daughter Zelda, agreed to finally revise their policies for when users use the service for wrong. One would think that their users spreading the criminally leaked Jennifer Lawrence nudes will only increase the likeliness of that promise sticking.