Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Another #GamerGate Victory

Brianna Wu has canceled whatever she was doing at PAX East this year. My initial reaction is "good" because fuck PAX, they don't deserve her. But I know she's disappointed, and I know developers rely heavily on PAX to promote their work. So this is not good.

You should already know why she had to cancel any appearance there, by herself or her work. Threats. Numerous, descriptive and graphic threats.

Since I've been writing and Tumblring and tweeting more about #GamerGate and their problem with threats lately, I've received more attention from their members who will look for any mention of #GamerGate on the Internet that isn't positive to attack. Which is quite a few of them, apparently. And they must be dedicated if they dug up my little 300-visits-per-day blog.

What I get from them over and over is that women like Brianna Wu should just ignore the threats, because clearly they just come from trolls and aren't "credible." They say Wu is "victimizing herself" by speaking out about these threats and taking action to protect herself, her family, and her employees.

They say that there are certain "YouTube personalities" that get threats all the time, and they just ignore them. I'm not sure if said personalities go beyond the likes of Amazing Atheist and Thunderf00t, who are honest to god some of the worst people on the entire planet. I'm also not sure how anyone knows about the threats to these personalities if they never talk about it. It's a mystery.

But maybe it's true. Maybe people have sent YouTube videos of themselves to these men in which they describe how, when, where, and why they're going to kill whatever YouTube personality they've targeted. Maybe they do get frequent phone calls. Maybe their family members have received threats and harassment.

So why aren't they talking about it? Why do you see harassment everywhere, then see women talking about it and men not talking about it, and decide that the men are doing the right thing? How is anyone's silence a good thing? If this is still an ongoing problem for Amazing Atheist and whoever, then obviously their ignoring of the trolls isn't working, is it? Why are you telling Brianna Wu to shut up instead of telling Amazing Atheist to speak up?

Gif of Finn from Adventure Time rubbing his chin while thinking very hard.

We should all know by now that this goes wayyyyyyyyy beyond "don't feed the trolls." That old mantra is as useful today as directions to the nearest pay phone or instructions on how to properly care for your CDs. It's like telling people to hide under their desks to protect themselves from a nuke that's dropping directly onto their location. Come on.

And just how long are women like Wu supposed to ignore these threats? What happens when one of those threats that you immediately labeled "not credible" turns out to have been very credible, and one of these women ends up dead? You're asking women to play Russian Roulette here. Maybe the odds of death are slimmer, but it's a numbers game nonetheless. We're already seeing increasing incidents of men going out and attacking/murdering women simply because they're women. You can't really say that it's just for attention when we already have a body count here.

And last but not least, there is a huge difference between men threatening men (and it is almost always men who send the threats) and men threatening women. How many women have been attacked, beaten and/or killed by men who became enraged when their harassment has been ignored by their female target? This isn't just for attention, it's not just for kicks - this is about power.

There is a clear power imbalance between men and women, and women are reminded of this constantly. Men harass us on the street because they know they can, and they no that no one will do anything about it. We've been ignoring them for centuries and they still do it. They know it still bothers us, which is why they laugh when we ignore them. At least, that's the best that can happen. It's a rare woman who can say she hasn't been called a bitch, online or off, for ignoring a man's harassment. When men really want our attention and we deny them, they become enraged because they didn't get what they wanted. We took away some of their power. This doesn't cause men to stop harassing women. Taking power from men pisses them off, and they so often tend to lash out in response.

Screenshot of headline: "Woman Slashed in Neck After Ignoring Man"

So women are routinely attacked verbally and physically for ignoring men on the street, and sometimes even murdered for it, and you want us to ignore it online now? You expect us not to worry that one of them will follow through with their threats, when we know that ignoring men when they want our attention can be deadly?

Men don't get this, you see, because they don't deal with street harassment. Even if they do deal with harassment online (and they really don't, not compared to what women deal with), they don't flash back each time to that moment when the man they ignored on the street started hurling slurs at them, gesturing violently with pure rage on his face. They don't think back to the day when they had to flee into a convenience store on the way home because a man they ignored started following them.

And they don't much get rape threats, either.

So maybe it's easy for you guys to ignore the threats. Maybe there's a reason you don't fear for your lives when you get threats online, if  you really do.

And if you do, then break the silence. I encourage you to speak out about it, both for yourself and for the women who have to deal with it. I propose a worldwide, gender-wide, absolute refusal to tolerate harassment and threats online. If we can all agree that harassment is bad, then let's actually do something about it, yeah? Seems like a no-brainer to me. Unless you really just want women to be silent.

Gif of Buffy winking while pouring cereal.

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