Last night Anita Sarkeesian, host of the feminist video game critique series Tropes vs Women, was forced to cancel an appearance at Utah State University after the school received a threat saying there would be a massacre if she spoke. This wasn’t the first time Sarkeesian received a direct, specific threat before a speaking engagement - recently on Twitter she said she had gone on stage at least three times after receiving specific death threats - but she canceled because the Utah police couldn’t provide the security she requested (due to the state’s concealed carry law, which is a whole other cultural clusterfuck). Anita is willing to be a target, but she didn’t want the audience to be targets as well.
When this news broke something happened: everyone on Twitter blamed GamerGate, the harassment campaign organized under a hashtag and run off the kiddie-porn disseminating website 4chan for being too extreme. While the threatening letter never mentioned GamerGate it was pretty clear that this lunatic was on their wavelength. Despite protestations that GamerGate is about ethics in journalism (we’ll get to why that’s hardcore bullshit), it’s been mostly a force for hounding women, especially Sarkeesian and indie developer Zoe Quinn, with developer Brianna Wu becoming the latest women run out of her home by specific violent threats from GamerGaters.
The Sarkeesian threat name-dropped Marc Lépine, who was the Elliott Rodger of Montreal, murdering 14 women in a self-described battle against feminism - the same enemy that GamerGate says it fights. This is the world of GamerGate, sick, pathetic men who are so threatened by women that they must either murder them or terrorize them into silence.
It’s important, before we get to how GamerGate has already lost, to explain how GamerGate has already proven itself a fraud. As it mobilizes a seething, 24-hour hate mob against women who are not journalists in the name of journalistic ethics it has utterly ignored a truly disturbing breach of journalistic ethics. It became known that the publisher of Middle-Earth: Shadows Of Mordor offered pre-release review copies to YouTube game reviewers only if they would agree to say positive things about it. Oh, and the YouTubers would get paid for it as well.
This isn’t new. It’s been happening for years. Check out this deal for coverage of Battlefield 4, and the things you are not allowed to discuss, like glitches. This goes for the Shadows of Mordor deal as well - you can’t talk about bugs in your review of the product.
What you’re looking at is the absolute kind of unethical dealing which GamerGate is railing against… and yet they haven’t mobilized against it. Zoe Quinn’s personal information is being posted on 8chan.co, the scumbag message board for people who think slimepit 4chan isn’t lenient enough, every day. Quinn isn’t a journalist. Quinn didn’t engage in payola. Real payola has happened, is happening and GamerGate is silent on it. Why aren't these YouTubers getting doxxed?
Because GamerGate isn’t about ethics. It’s about stopping women from having voices, it’s about keeping progressive ideas out of games and it’s about attacking any kind of game that doesn’t fit the mainstream, shoot-em-up vision of video games these deeply emotionally stunted people have.
They’ve already lost their own battle as they roll over on true ethical lapses. But more than that, they’ve lost the PR war. The second everyone assumed the Utah threat came from a Gamergater they lost. Their entire campaign has been defined to mean one thing, and one thing only - harassment of women. The more they claim otherwise the more bizarre they come across, like when you hear Klansmen say they don’t hate black people, they’re just proud of being white. You wonder who they think they’re fooling.
When the news broke about Sarkeesian Joss Whedon tweeted this:
TERRORISM ISN'T BLOWING THINGS UP. IT'S USING THE FEAR OF VIOLENCE TO COW US AND CONTROL OUR ACTIONS. http://t.co/piK9w1cqNC— Joss Whedon (@josswhedon) October 15, 2014
Weeks ago I took a lot of heat for jokingly comparing GamerGate to ISIS, but it’s not a joke anymore. Days after Malala Yousefzai became the youngest winner of the Nobel Peace Prize for standing up to the misogynist Taliban terrorists, misogynist GamerGate terrorists tried to silence Anita Sarkeesian. As Whedon says terrorism isn’t about doing violence, it’s about using the spectre of violence to get your way. The threats against Sarkeesian were terroristic in nature, and the GamerGaters who have fostered a campaign of hate towards her and other prominent women in the gaming community are as guilty as the diseased hands that typed the threat.
Many on the sidelines are baffled that GamerGaters don’t just abandon the hashtag and start fresh; even the imbeciles who believe this is about journalistic ethics must understand that any movement beginning from the Five Guys Burgers and Fries anti-Quinn sentiment (the Five Guys thing is a reference to claims that Quinn cheated on her boyfriend with five other people, a vile slander) is growing on poisoned ground. But the reality is that they’re not ashamed of their toxic origins. They own it. They are toxic people, and I’m glad they’re sticking with GamerGate. It lets us know exactly who to ignore, who isn’t worth our time.
Today if you call someone a Nazi you don’t mean they’re literally a member of the National Socialist Party. I wonder how long until it becomes commonplace to tell a friend who says something misogynistic, “You’re such a GamerGater.”
There's one last reason why GamerGate has already lost its campaign against women: the more noise they make, the more terror threats they send to Sarkeesian, the more they publish the home phone numbers of Zoe Quinn's family, the more they drive women like Brianna Wu out their homes, the more people who were neutral suddenly realize we need feminism. The more they rant and rave against women, the more they inch towards real world violence, the more people wake up and see that there's still a lot of work to do when it comes to equality and that our society is still filled with unspoken misogynistic assumptions and practices. Every nasty tweet a GamerGater sends to a woman convinces one more person to speak up in defense of women. Their ugly hate is recruiting people for the good guys every single day.