The furor surrounding high profile feminist Anita Sarkeesian and the hate campaign she has been a victim of is one of the net’s hottest topics at the moment and it doesn’t look like calming down anytime soon either.
It all started when Feminist Frequency’s Sarkeesian posted about her latest project on fundraising site Kickstarter. Sarkeesian aimed to raise the funds she need to make a series of videos that explored clichéd and stereotypical representations of women in video games, which she did so almost instantaneously – however, her Kickstarter project also got her a whole lot more than funding.
It seems that Sarkeesian’s project hit a raw note with a great many gamers, who felt she was being unfairly critical of certain games and the industry in general. They took to her site making their hostility towards her video series well known. Some of these comments were merely people expressing their opinions about the project, which they are entirely entitled to have. However, it was not long before many of the comments directed at Sarkeesian took on a more sinister tone and became more of a hate campaign than a discussion.
Sarkeesian has since been the victim of a trove of misogynist, racist and generally vile abuse, images have appeared of her in various degrading sexual positions and some users have even gone as far as to post her home address and phone number online!! Her Wikipedia page was hacked several times and crude and vulgar messages until it was locked. Several of her other sites were hacked and brought down, actions which were then bragged about online.
The New Statesman’s Helen Lewis wrote about the serious amount of abuse that Sarkeesian has suffered of late, she said:
“I think Sarkeesian has been incredibly courageous in sharing what’s happened to her. Those obscene pictures are intended to shame her, to reduce her to her genitals, and to intimidate her. I’m sure there’s plenty here which breaks the law – both in the UK and the US. But the solution here probably isn’t a legal one: it’s for everyone involved to have some basic human decency. This isn’t just a few rude words, and it isn’t OK. “
One of the most talked about attacks on Sarkeesian was the ‘punch her in the face’ game created by a member of the general public and gaming enthusiast Ben Spurr, a 25-year-old from Sault Ste Marie, a city in Ontario, Canada. Spurr claims he created the game because he was annoyed that Sarkeesian was misrepresenting an industry that he loved in her project and claims that it was not properly researched.
It’s an interactive game, inviting players to “beat up Anita Sarkeesian”. As you click the screen, bruises and welts appear on her face.
He also claims that she ‘scammed’ money out of people for this project and in the description accompanying the game, he said: “She claims to want gender equality in video games, but in reality, she just wants to use the fact that she was born with a vagina to get free money and sympathy from everyone who crosses her path.”
However the game in which you get to punch Sarkeesian repetitively in the face until cuts and bruises appear has caused a serious amount of shock and disgust. Many people have taken to Spurr’s Twitter to express their disgust at the game that he has created yet he has persistently tried to defend his actions and claim that he did not create the game because he is sexist.
On the So Disarming Darling Tumblr several of his ridiculous arguments are highlighted and torn apart. On the Tumblr it was pointed out that Spurr claimed one of the reasons he created the game was because Sarkeesian refused to reply to any of his critical comments about her project, as if it was unusual behavior for a celebrity not to take the time out to respond to every single criticism written about their work. As So Disarming points out, this is down to Spurr’s feelings of “entitlement” and explains:
“Spurr feels that he automatically deserves response and ultimately, validation. This is common among people raging against feminist initiatives, who try to invalidate arguments by complaining that people aren’t responding or listening to their “criticism.” Here’s the thing, White Guy Who Grew Up Thinking He’s Entitled to Everything and Everyone, and I know this might totally rock your world, but people don’t have to respond to anything. They don’t have to read what you write, watch what you film, or hell, even acknowledge your existence on the Internet. You are not entitled to engagement. That’s a person’s choice, not an automated response. And out here in the adult world, disagreement doesn’t culminate in vicious harassment, it happens via discussions that don’t involve, you know, images of a bloody face.”
One thing I find particularly interesting about Spurr’s argument is that he is so angry about a project that hasn’t been completed yet. I mean obviously Sarkeesian’s introduction to her project implies that she believes that the gaming industry is guilty of overusing certain stereotypical characters – but he hasn’t seen any of her evidence yet, she might end up putting together an argument that makes sense to him. He is, in effect, judging a book by its cover!
He is also angry that she has allegedly ‘scammed’ this money out of people. Everyone who uses Kickstarter, uses it to gain funding for projects that they want to undertake. He claims she already has a camera and the cash to carry out the project and therefore should not be asking for more, but somehow I sincerely doubt he knows the intricacies of her expenses and budget. If people want to pledge money to help her get her project off the ground, then that is entirely their business. No one forced them to do it!
So what do you think about the hate campaign against Sarkeesian? Do you think it has gone too far, or is it just people invoking their right to freedom of speech? Leave a comment and let us know.