GTA V has little room for women except to portray them as strippers, prostitutes, long-suffering wives, humorless girlfriends and goofy, new-age feminists we’re meant to laugh at. Characters constantly spout lines that glorify male sexuality while demeaning women, and the billboards and radio stations of the world reinforce this misogyny, with ads that equate manhood with sleek sports cars while encouraging women to purchase a fragrance that will make them “smell like a bitch.” Yes, these are exaggerations of misogynistic undercurrents in our own society, but not satirical ones. With nothing in the narrative to underscore how insane and wrong this is, all the game does is reinforce and celebrate sexism. The beauty of cruising in the sun-kissed Los Santos hills while listening to “Higher Love” by Steve Winwood turns sour really quick when a voice comes on the radio that talks about using a woman as a urinal.
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.
Read the full article "Dear Internet, This is Why You Can’t Have Anything Nice"
Harassment via Wikipedia Vandalism
As some of you may know a harassment campaign is being waged against me because of my Tropes vs Women in Video Games project on Kickstarter. This coordinated attack was launched by various online video game forums and has included attempts to get my accounts banned, a torrent of hate on YouTube, plus countless threats of violence, death, sexual assault and rape. As part of that intimidation effort the Wikipedia page about me was vandalized with misogynist language, pornography and racial slurs.
I went back and forth about whether or not to share this publicly because I don’t want to inadvertently encourage this kind of behavior or scare other women into staying silent out of fear something similar may happen to them. But ultimately I’ve decided I’m going to document and strategically share what is happening to me because these types of online harassment tactics are used against women, feminists and people from oppressed and marginalized groups every day.
About a year ago I noticed someone had made a Wikipedia page about me. It’s a simple stub in the Women’s Rights Activist category and contains two short paragraphs mostly pulled from my online bio. Very little had changed on the page since it was created, that is until last week.
The image below shows the result of the vandalism that took place over the course of June 5th and 6th, 2012. This was not done by just one or two trolls but was a coordinated cyber mob style effort involving a whole gang working together. The screenshot below was downloaded directly from one of the internet forums organizing the harassment. They were proudly posting this image as a trophy to boast about what they were doing and to encourage others to join in.
Click to see larger version - NOTE: I’ve blurred out the pornographic drawing
The vandalism included changing the text, changing the page categories, changing the external links to re-reroute to porn sites and adding a drawing of a women with a man’s penis in her mouth captioned with “Daily Activities”. One extra imaginative troll added that I was actually Bioware writer Jennifer Hepler in disguise (Hepler has also recently been viciously attacked for her opinions on modern video games).
This second screenshot was also downloaded from those same internet forums and again was passed around on various threads as evidence of their attack. Since my name is rather unique, the Wikipedia page about me comes up first when searching for my name. This is what a Google search for my name returned for several days even after the vandalism was removed.
NOTE: I added the red arrow and text
On the evening of the second day the page was officially identified as the subject of persistent vandalism and was finally locked by Wikipedia moderators so that only those with registered accounts could make further changes. From the IP addresses logged in the revision history it look like a dozen or more different people were working together to vandalize the page. I want to extend a big thank you to all the dedicated Wikipedians out there that helped remove the vandalism and continue to monitor the page!
I am certainly not the first woman to suffer this kind of harassment and sadly, I won’t be the last. But I’d just like to reiterate that this is not a trivial issue. It can not and should not be brushed off by saying, “oh well that’s YouTube for you”, “trolls will be trolls” or “it’s to be expected on the internet”. These are serious threats of violence, harassment and slander across many online platforms meant to intimidate and silence. And its not okay.
Again, don’t worry, this harassment will never stop me from making my videos! Thank you all for your support!
The notion that cyber harassment is trivial is both widespread and damaging. Because so many refuse to recognize cyber harassment as harmful, women suffer in silence, often sacrificing their female identities and their online lives. A cyber civil rights agenda would change this by recognizing and naming cyber harassment as gender discrimination. By changing the social meaning of online harassment and recharacterizing it as a civil rights violation, we may be able to transform online behavior in a manner that permits women to claim the internet as equally their own.
Harassment, Misogyny and Silencing on YouTube
Here is a very small sample of the harassment I deal with for daring to criticize sexism in video games. Keep in mind that all this is in response to my Kickstarter project for a video series called Tropes vs. Women in Video Games (which I have not even made yet). These are the types of silencing tactics often used against women on the internet who dare to speak up. But don’t worry it won’t stop me!
[MAJOR TRIGGER WARNING]
NOTE: These 60 comments were left over the course of just one hour on YouTube. They represent a tiny fraction of the 2000+ similar comments left on my video.