Stalking, Doxxing, and Threats

Now that I’m actually using this blog again, I’m gonna start off with a small personal update (for the few people who actually know me from real life!)  The AC situation has been… alleviated.  Somewhat.  

If you’re not aware, my AC broke a few days ago, and long story short, for the price of fixing it we might as well get a new one.  It’s academic though, as we don’t have the money to do either, so we’ve just been over here melting in the Florida summer heat.  (It’s really awful, y’all.  We’re sweaty, sticky, stinky, and cranky.)  All of our windows are the kind that crank out, too, so a window unit isn’t much of an option. 

Today, however, my dad showed up with a couple used standalone units that he got for cheap – they only have a vent that has to go to the window, and the rest of the window can be covered with saran wrap or trash bags or something.  They’re ugly, noisy, and they smell kinda weird, but – if they’ll keep the house cool I won’t complain.  (Much.) 

So that’s good.  Hopefully it’ll tide us over for the rest of the summer; with any luck, by next summer I will finally be in my dream job (I should get my certification back TOMORROW, you guys!!!), and we can afford to get the damn thing replaced. 

Anyway.  On to the main topic.  (TW: rape threats, threats of violence, threats to loved ones, stalking, doxxing)

 

So – this is kinda serious.  Apparently Anita Sarkeesian has been driven out of her own home – not by a faulty AC, but by violent and scary stalkers. 

If you aren’t familiar with her, Sarkeesian is the woman who does Tropes vs. Women, a series of videos examining misogyny in video games and video game culture.  I personally think the videos are fantastic and that she is an awesome person; other people, I know, are very critical of her videos and the points she makes, and you know what, that’s fine.  People are allowed to disagree, and even if you don’t like her videos I think they serve as a good starting point to discuss these issues with people who maybe aren’t already well-versed in feminist theory.  If someone publishes a well-reasoned, well-thought-out critique that rebuts her points, well, at least that person has given those points serious thought and done research into the issues she addresses, and that is a good thing. 

Unfortunately, a significant percentage of the pushback she gets does not come in the form of well-reasoned critique. 

Even before her project began, back when she was still raising funds through Kickstarter, Sarkeesian has been the target of abuse from people who take personal offense at the very idea of a woman examining misogyny in gaming.  This has taken the form of frothy-rage comments on her Kickstarter, response videos that boil down to “you’re stupid and feminism is stupid and video games aren’t for stupid girls anyway”, online “games” where you can pretend to beat her up… and insults and threats, some of them horrifically detailed and terrifyingly plausible, being sent to her via email and social media.  Which is honestly kinda ironic, and proves the point she’s trying to make – there is some nasty virulent misogyny lurking right under the surface of gaming culture.  If you want to prove it, just be a woman who is openly critical (even while still being a fan of!) video games. 

Here is an example, and I warn you, it is not a pleasant read:

 

 

Whether you like Anita Sarkeesian and agree with her, like her but disagree on some points, or even if you think she’s smug and unlikable and trying to ruin video games for you, I think we can all agree that this is, to use the proper academic term, un-fucking-acceptable.  

Treating someone like this for any reason is terrifying.  I hope, for her and her family’s sake, that this is just someone trying to scare her rather than a real threat – but the problem is that she can’t know, not for sure.  When men can kill women for turning them down for sex (or for the belief that they would have turned them down for sex) and get sympathy for it online, is it that much of a stretch to believe someone might actually try to kill a woman for “attacking” his favorite hobby? 

And, because it’s still going on and it’s right at the top of my mind, it makes me think of the situation from my last post – the SKA site that is targeting Ana Mardoll and Melissa McEwan.  (Fair warning to anyone reading this, I have a LOT to say about this topic and will probably continue to post about it for a while.  It’s far from the most important thing in the world right now, but it’s the one I’m personally connected to.) 

No, to the best of my knowledge, nobody has contacted Ana or Melissa and threatened to kill them, rape them with poles, drink their blood, or kill their parents, so, y’know, kudos for that.  The harassment has not escalated to that level, again, so far as I know.  (Although I do feel the need to point out that if that’s the bar you must be measured against in order to come away looking like a decent person, you might want to examine your life choices.) 

However, as Ana points out in her post here, the final straw – the one that made her say she was done, that she didn’t think she could do this anymore – was when SKA posted a request for anyone who’s met either of these women in real life to “share anecdotes about them.” 

Think about that for a moment.  She (the site owner) runs a site that fosters hatred of these two individuals, encourages people to hate them, stirs up that hatred and fuels it when things start dying down… and then encourages people to share personal, real-life information about them. 

Now.  Do I think the site owner has nefarious plans for that information?  Probably not, other than to gain new material to mock and harass them with.  Probably the most vocal members of the community over there, the ones she probably considers the core of the community, don’t either.  (I may be being overly optimistic here – some of the individuals I’ve had the displeasure of interacting with show a lack of judgment that seriously worries me – but I’m choosing, for the sake of my own peace of mind, to believe that they wouldn’t try to physically harm someone in the real world.) 

However, they’ve already had issues – like, in the last week or so – with someone from their site doing things they claim they don’t approve of.  And every site has lurkers.  And given that we DO, PROVABLY live in a world where people send women they disapprove of messages like the ones we saw above.  Where people look up personal information – home addresses, family members – about women they don’t like.  And where women DO get killed for imagined slights. 

Given all of that, what SKA is doing is, at best, monstrously irresponsible.  At worst, it could be considered an incitement to violence. 

And when the best, most benefit-of-the-doubt-y interpretation is “monstrously irresponsible,” you have a problem.

The point of this is simply: this shit is real.  There’s a lot of people who think it’s funny to share real life information online, or use it to rattle someone’s cage or make them back down in an argument, but this shit is real.  When you’re on the receiving end of it, you don’t know whether the person putting your private information out there is just fucking with you, or if they’re planning to do something with it.  Even if the person publishing your information isn’t planning anything personally, you don’t know who’s going to see their nasty comments about you, go “yeah, that’s right, I hate her too!”, then see the information they put out there… and decide to take the next step.  When people are actively requesting personal, real-life information about you, you have no way of knowing if it’s just to have a giggle about you… or if they’re hoping that there’ll be enough info to track you down.  And again, even if one person’s intentions are benign, you don’t know who else will be lurking and getting ideas.

Don’t do that.  Understand why it’s scary.  Understand why it’s dangerous.  And be responsible.

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