#GamerGate changed me.
I grew up in a progressive community. I remember going with my mother to proudly vote for Bill Clinton and later Al Gore. I was raised to believe that a girl could grow up to be anything she wanted and she could achieve anything. I knew that these ideas were not always prevalent; I knew that there were some people who believed that I was less because gender; but I did not know any of these people. When I went to college I learned about the history and oppression of women and minorities throughout history. I was told that women are still being oppressed everywhere, including here in America. I didn’t really believe it. I attended the occasional V-day march, I protested against slut-shaming, and I did what I could to help the causes of equality. I did it mainly because it is what I was taught to do. I had never had to confront the ugly reality of misogyny, homophobia, and racism prevalent in the United States….until #GamerGate.
Much of my work is on the computational side of medical device design. I am a decent (though far from exceptional) programmer and spend my days around engineering geeks super-excited for latest Far Cry release. #GamerGate was not some far-off internet battle for me. I had considered some #GamerGaters to be my friends … at least until #GamerGate.
#GamerGate, for those who do not remember, was a very thinly veiled attempt to run women out of the gaming industry and to harass and silence any women who opposed sexism in gaming. Eventually, it just became a sustained campaign against any women on the internet. Just as there are entire books written about single days in July 1914, entire encyclopedia sets could be written about #GamerGate which began on an inauspicious day in August 2014. A short summary from the Washington Post can be found here. A concise timeline of events can be found here. Recounting the events of #GamerGate is a task that is beyond me, and certainly beyond the confines of this space. However, we should never forget the crimes of #GamerGate. Here are a small sampling of just those events I can easily remember:
- The whole affair started as a slut-shaming of Zoe Quinn. She was sexually harassed for months by hordes of online trolls, she was falsely accused of embezzlement, she he was subjected to thousands of rape and death threats, and had nude pictures of her spread across the internet (no link – for obvious reasons).
- Trans-woman game developer Brianna Wu had her information released on 8chan making her the subject of uncounted rape threats, forcing her to flee her home and causing her to withdraw from several conferences that could not ensure her security.
- Feminist Frequency founder Anita Sarkeesian was forced to flee her home after receiving very specific death threats for which she was falsely accused of faking the police report. She was forced to cancel several appearances because the forums were not able to guarantee her security, despite having previously received bomb threats.
- Suey Park was doxed, threatened by a military sniper, forced to flee her home, cut her hair, and go into hiding to escape the harassment, stalking, and true threats.
- There were several attempts to send SWAT teams to the homes of #GamerGate critics.
- Felicia Day had her address and phone number posted online, subjecting her to hundreds of harassing letters, phone calls, and threats.
- Randi Harper got SWATted. (The usual harassment too).
- Trans-woman gamer Sarah Nyberg was doxed, photos of her dead family members were sent to her with vile messages, her friends were harassed, and her websites were hacked. Since #GamerGate, she has been the subject of one of the misogynist right’s most intense libel efforts.
- All of this is on top of the thousands of women, gamers, POC, and other minorities that were harassed every single day for months. Ordinary people who dared to speak, and were subjected to constant abuse, harassment, rape threats, death threats, and doxing.
This week, many of the worst trolls of #GamerGate decided to attend the 2017 VidCon in Los Angeles, CA, en masse where they knew Anita Sarkeesian would be speaking. #GamerGate villain and master troll Carl Benjamin (a.k.a. Sargon of Akkad) explained to alt-right reporter Tim Pool that their purpose there is to harass “social justice warriors” and to continue the harassment campaign of #GamerGate. Benjamin was recorded to say, “I think our very presence [here] will [troll them], I don’t think we have to do anything for that.” True to his word, Benjamin and his anti-social justice contingent were intent on engaging in some IRL bullying at a cyberbulling forum at which Anita Sarkeesian was a panelist. In a clear intimidation tactic, the anti-SJW contingent occupied the first three rows of the room, forcing her to recall the threats, harassment, and terror of previously having to flee for her life. The result, now forever immortalized on YouTube, is that Anita called Benjamin a “shithead” and a “garbage human”.
Proving that #GamerGaters remain master manipulators of the media, they have launched a campaign to have Sarkeesian banned from future forums for “harassing the guests,” an effort that could very possibly have succeeded. Despite #GamerGate supposedly ending several years ago, #GamerGate harassment efforts are sure to continue.
I want to thank the #GamerGate for making me the feminist that I am. I want to thank the shithead garbage humans who remind me why I am a feminist. It is a travesty that any of these anti-social justice shitlords would be allowed into the same room as a woman they had spent years harassing and threatening. It reminds me that institutional sexism is everywhere and we must all work to change the law to protect victims from their abusers.
I do have one complaint with Anita, however. She did not go nearly far enough. Shithead, sure… Garbage Human, certainly…
… … On second thought, I won’t add my description. I don’t know if I strong enough to endure a #GamerGate harassment campaign.