UPDATED July 10, 2012 (profbigk): Although she’s now received an amount of viciousness that surprises even those of us who thought we were cynical, Sarkeesian has raised about $160,000, an amount well over her goal.
What’s that computer game called where a woman makes a feminist argument and then the other players respond with violent, misogynistic, abusive remarks? Oh, yeah. The internet.
The most recent (well, we can’t guarantee something worse didn’t happen 30 seconds ago, but we live in hope) instance of this phenomenon surrounds Anita Sarkeesian, whom you will surely know for her wonderful YouTube videos in which she applies the Bechdel Test to recent films. Earlier this week, Sarkeesian made a pitch for Kickstarter funds to research misogyny in video games.
The response was immediate, overwhelming, and sadly predictable — thousands of abusive comments inpugning her in the most racist, violent, misogynistic terms. (One term, beginning with “c” was especially popular.) The great news is that Sarkeesian has, so far, garnered ten times the financial support she was seeking. Here’s the full story from New Statesman.
Sarkeesian decided to leave the comments on her video, as proof that such sexism exists. I think it’s important that she did, because too often the response to stories like this, “Come on, it can’t be that bad”. There are two reasons for this: first, that if you don’t experience this kind of abuse, it’s difficult to believe it exists (particularly if you’re a man and this just isn’t part of your daily experience). Secondly, because news reports don’t print the bad words. We’ve got into a weird situation where you have to get a TV channel controller to sign off a comedian using the word “cunt” after 9pm, but on the internet, people spray it round like confetti. We read almost-daily reports of “trolls” being cautioned or even jailed, but often have no idea what they’ve said.
As the (male) gamer who pointed me to this story observed, ” I’ve gotten into my fair share of heated discussions on the internet, but I think the worst I’ve been called is an idiot. No one seems to dig out Billy Bob’s Big Book of Rape Threats for dudes, but remember, that’s not privilege…”
Addendum: By popular request, here is the link to Sarkeesian’s Tropes vs. Women in Video Games project page.