Anita Sarkeesian Is Something Else

I had the pleasure of attending Anita Sarkeesian’s talk on Friday.  Ever since we had talked about her in class and read those articles about her I’ve been following her online like when she appeared on the Colbert Report.  Anita talked mainly about her experiences with Gamergate and about the numerous threats she received.  I wish she had talked more about her work with Feminist Frequency but regardless, her talk was still amazing and I am so glad that I attended.  As she spoke I thought it was crazy how people tried to impersonate her in order to make her seem more ridiculous or to put words in her mouth.  What I thought was even more crazy however was that these hackers would break into some of her personal accounts (like flickr) and steal her personal photos to make it more believable.  In my opinion, if you have to make up things to prove your point that she is asking way too much, then your argument is pretty much invalid. 

What was going through my head the entire time was “Wow. Nothing she is saying right now seems crazy at all.  Are people really upset that she said that games like Grand Theft Auto negatively portray women? Because the game obviously does.”  I didn’t think any of her points warranted the amount of backlash she received but never the less she still receives death and even rape threats.  What is even more concerning is that for a lot of people who have sent these threats, they are still not found and haven’t received any punishment for their actions.

After, she lead into discussing what she thought needed to change in order for these online communities to be a safer place.  Anita said that states needed to increase their laws against stalking to protect user’s opinions and stop the harassment that will come with expressing those opinions.  She also said that states need to begin punishing the spread of non-consensual explicit images.  This was one of the tactics Gamergate used against Anita by photoshopping her face on to explicit images to try and defame her.  Lastly, she also spoke about how these crimes against her are also hate crimes.  They stem from her comments regarding women and they attack her based on the fact that she is a women.  She says, and I completely agree, that these are gender based hate crimes.

Anita also gave suggestions on how to fix some issues within social media atmospheres and I think they are some of the best ideas that I have ever heard.  She mentioned that as of right now it is impossible to block messages based the content.  Anita suggested that social media websites should include an option to be able to block these message using a feature that can detect back-listed words and then delete the message.  Also, she brought up the point that some members of Gamergate will just create new accounts if she blocks them and continue to harass her.  Instead, Anita suggests a feature that allows you to block anyone that does not meet certain criteria such as follower count or amount of posts. 

Over all, I was blown away by Anita.  She was amazing and I was even fortunate enough to talk with her and get a picture after her speech.  Sadly, while I was talking to her I realized that she is actually just a regular person like all of us, but she is made out to be a villain.  It’s hard to imagine what I would do if I received these threats for posting my opinion on something I truly cared about.

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3 comments

  1. I have a lot of respect for Anita Sarkeesian because of how she continues her activism in the gaming community. It must take a lot of strength to advocate against misogyny when death threats and non-stop harassment are the end result.

    Regardless of one’s opinion on Feminist Frequency, it in no way warrants the treatment she has received. I liked her message at the end when she stated we all have a responsibility to speak out. While it has come with some very negative reactions, Sarkeesian has used her platform to bring awareness to an important and prevalent issue in the video game industry.

  2. Anita’s call to legal action is far from overdue. Another speaker also mentioned the fact that laws policing online abuse are seriously lax and don’t actually help anyone. Maybe people are afraid of infringing upon free speech rights, but what about online harassment should be legal? I doubt if anyone experienced it they would still say that victims should just shrug it off and ignore it.

    I’m glad that Anita is speaking up about how women are portrayed in video games. I have done research about how men and women are differently portrayed in perfume advertisements, with similar results. While men are often in strong and dominant poses, or wearing expensive suits that suggest a successful career, women were often lying on the ground in submissive poses and little to no clothing. Sometimes the perfume bottles themselves were the only thing keeping their modesty, strategically placed to cover their bodies. It is a pervasive theme in many forms of society, and video games were previously something I hadn’t looked into because I am not really a gamer. Now that I am more aware, I see how big the problem is.

  3. I agree with you all. Anita has certainly handled so much harassment and threats and for what… for being able to say what she believes the gaming industry has done in terms of female characters. It truly is mind boggling to see and read this threats and it also shows just how low and dark some people are; not even willing to her what the other side (Anita) has to say. The best way, at least for them, to deal with Anita is to attack her and destroy her.

    I have to say that Anita’s points do have validity. Looking back at the games I used to play as a kid, the female was always being rescued by the male. Mario being a prime example of this. Peach is always needing to be rescued and the one time she is given the role to rescue Mario, the game developers used mood swings as Peach’s powers- from happy, to sad, to rage, and then to calm. Mario never had that, rather he would obtain power-ups to save her.

    All these horrible acts are all going a step beyond any rationale. Anita, though, is one very strong individual because regardless of what ever is said by her or done to her image, she still maintains herself and expresses her views. Nothing will stop her from being able to say what she believes needs to be said.

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