It was really cool to see Anita Sarkeesian in person at Loyola. We had read about her in class and I had seen her on the Colbert Report, but it was strange to see her in person speaking at our school. I only saw her in person briefly, as I had to sit in the overflow room, but it was cool nonetheless.
One thing I would like to comment on was the security. First, I think it is unbelievable that someone like Sarkeesian should even need such extensive event security. I have watched her videos before and I understand that she is somewhat of an incendiary speaker, but the fact that her safety is that much at risk is just plain sad to me. I strongly believe that no one should feel that unsafe, especially in a university. I completely understand why they had the security measures, but the fact that they are necessary is abhorrent.
Another thing I’d like to say about the security is that I actually never even went through it. I work in Lewis Towers, so I was there early in the morning and I walked right past security and scanned my id to go to the elevators. Later, when I did sign in to go to the event I did not have to go through metal detectors. I had left my backpack at my desk so I did not carry a bag and I also do not look like the sort of person who would be carrying a gun, but I still expected security to be stricter. The workers behind the front desk may have recognized me and I suppose I know much more about getting into the building than the average person, but I still felt it would have been really easy to get through unchecked.
Security aside, I found Sarkeesian’s speech had really good points. Not only is it infuriating to me that people would threaten and degrade her online, but the fact that the majority of it was based around her gender was truly vile. If she were a man, she wouldn’t have to block comments and posts to her Facebook that contain any variation of spelling (or misspelling) of the word “sandwich” or have people photoshop sexually explicit pictures of her.
One thing I initially didn’t love about Sarkeesian’s talk was how it mostly surrounded her own experiences with online harassment. I was more interested in hearing about the content of her videos on FemFreq and the portrayal of women in video games. However, once I thought about it I began to see how the fact that she has to talk about her harassment is such a sad fact. I believe this is more to the fault of the misogynistic gamers who harass Sarkeesian. Sarkeesian faces so much hatred that she has to spend great amounts of time and energy dealing with trolls and threats.
One thing that really struck me about Sarkeesian’s speech was when she said that she shouldn’t have to explain Twitter to the police. If police and law enforcement don’t understand social media, how can they appropriately deal with threats and harassment made on such platforms? How can we protect victims if we don’t have the proper social media functions, resources, or knowledge? If the police don’t understand Twitter, is it truly something they will take seriously?