This morning, Anita Sarkeesian appeared on DemocracyNow! to talk about #GamerGate and the incredibly violent threats she’s received because she dared to deconstruct the representation of women in video games. Sarkeesian and DemocracyNow! host Amy Goodman talked about how such volatile attacks play into a broader culture of online intimidation that discourages meaningful feminist critique and silences would-be critical voices in the movement to end gender based violence – rhetorically or otherwise.
Just last week, Sarkeesian canceled a public speaking engagement at Utah State University when local law enforcement said they would not screen attendees for concealed weapons, citing other events where Sarkeesian appeared despite similar threats. “We need to take all of these threats seriously. There’s a sort of sentiment that online harassment is not real, that we shouldn’t take it seriously,” Sarkeesian told Amy Goodman. Someone claiming to be a student at the university, and using the moniker “Marc Lepine,” threatened to kill Sarkeesian, faculty, and students in an attack similar to the 1989 massacre carried out against female engineering students at Montreal’s Ecole Polytechnique if the event went forward. But the incident was only the latest in a string of intrusive and increasingly physical online threats against women that have prompted the FBI to step in.
This summer, a poll found that of the quarter of Americans who are harassed online, 57 percent are women. Of that number, young women under 35 were twice as likely to experience harassment, and nearly half reported sexual harassment.
Have you ever been harassed online? Share your story in the comments section.