Until now, the perception has been that you can say anything you like on the internet, without any consequences. Recent cases… show that is getting less and less true.
I’ve blogged…at length…about sex in video games and the experiences girl gamers face. Some of these experiences are amusing. Some of them are even funny. Some are just plain irritating. And anyone that has spent even a modest amount of time in online pursuits where there is some sort of interaction through either comments or live chat, has likely had at least one or two negative experiences with trolls or people that are just flat out ignorant asshats. These are people who either intentionally look for others to harass, or just feel free to say whatever half-formed thought crosses their half-formed brains due to assumed anonymity. Maybe they think they’re “just having fun” or perhaps it makes these pitiable human beings feel better about their own ineffectual and pathetic lives to be able to take a virtual shit on people who might normally kick their asses in real life. And some of them are just plain assholes. Mean.
And these people will use whatever dirty epithet or blasphemous racial or sexual slur they can think of to insult you and tear you down. It’s their only real weapon in place of something intelligent to say.
But even knowing all of this, even experiencing a lot of this, I was still shocked by the vicious cyber attack on Californian blogger, Anita Sarkeesian, after she launched a project to make a web video series about video game tropes and women. Not just the ignorant and inflammatory comments, but the fact that this woman was the victim of a concentrated effort to vandalize her Wikipedia page and organized efforts to have her YouTube videos flagged as “terrorism.” Additionally, she became the target of threats of violence, rape, and death.
Now, if you follow some of the comments made on the videos, you’ll notice that even people who supported this woman in a respectful way were subsequently flamed by some of the other commenters.
I am really floored. Do all the idiots congregate in one place (comment boards on the internet?) Or is it that most of the normal and good people (not all, mind you, but most) know there’s no point in even wasting time trying to argue with these narrow-minded, disrespectful morons?
It appears that Anita Sarkeesian has not only offended most of the remaining misogynists in the world, but even worse, she has offended video game nerds by “insulting” their beloved games. And by “video game nerds,” I don’t mean just “people who like or play video games.” (After all, I play video games. So does my husband and a lot of my friends.) I mean those people who are so sad and pathetic that they live vicariously through their video games. You know who you are.
Now, while the very existence of groups like the Westboro Baptist Church should clue me in on the fact that there are still evolutionary throwbacks in humanity’s pond, I have to admit, even I am still stunned that there are so many socially and intellectually stunted people in this world. Watching the news everyday is depressing enough without this happy horse shit.
I wonder what it was about this woman that pissed so many people off. As my step-father used to say “opinions are like assholes; everyone’s got one.” I’m sure she is not the first person out there to spark a feminist debate about video games. Is it just because she is semi-well known? If I was more well-known, would I receive nasty remarks and threats of violence for this post? Maybe I should ask WordPress to create a Widget exclusively for keeping track of death threats. To hell with overall views and “followers.” You’re not popular until you’ve received death threats from the dregs of society via the internet. Bring it on (and I’ll happily ignore and delete them as per my comment regulations!)
On a more serious note, given the disappointing and disturbing trend in the past couple of decades or so of the legal system’s increasing support of people’s unwillingness to take responsibility for their own actions, part of me hopes we will begin to see repercussions for online harassment. Because that’s what it is. Aside from rude remarks, some people seem to think they have the right to threaten and verbally assault others by dint of being online, and that having “freedom of speech” gives them the right to act like total assholes, when if they said some of this stuff to people’s faces, they’d get arrested or punched in the mouth. If you ask me, some people could really still benefit from a punch in the mouth…
But maybe that’s just this humble female blogger being a “bitch.”
- Anita Sarkeesian, Video Game Rape Culture, and Why Online Harassment Is Not a Joke (thinkprogress.org)
- Tropes Vs. Women In Video Games Vs. The Internet (rockpapershotgun.com)
- Dear The Internet, This Is Why You Can’t Have Anything Nice (newstatesman.com)