Anita Sarkeesian is a videographer and cultural critic who evaluates the way women are portrayed in popular culture. It's a job that has garnered her both internet fame and abuse. Ever since she launched the Tropes vs. Women Youtube series in 2011, she's received consistent threats against her work and life.
But in the past six months, Gamergate spotlighted her work, and she's quickly become known as one of their most prominent critics — and victims. Sarkeesian isn't just being critiqued for her words or opinions. Instead, she's been taken to task for being a woman who exists, inconveniently, in the world.
On her Tumblr Monday, Sarkeesian posted a showcase of the kind of hate she receives daily.
I've been harassed on a daily basis by irate gamers angry at my critiques of sexism in video games. It can sometimes be difficult to effectively communicate just how bad this sustained intimidation campaign really is. So I've taken the liberty of collecting a week's worth of hateful messages sent to me on Twitter. The following tweets were directed at my @femfreq account between 1/20/15 and 1/26/15.
Here are three examples chosen at random:
Gamergate began as a question about what its proponents called "ethics in games journalism." What they hoped to do initially was raise questions about the lines between gaming companies and the people who reported on them. But the movement rapidly devolved into a terrible swarm of angry people.
Sarkeesian is hardly alone. Dozens of other women were attacked brutally during Gamergate. Hundreds of women who write online receive threats and comments like this every day, myself included. Sarkeesian's post isn't horrifying because it's terrible. It's horrifying because this is just a random week. This is what her Twitter mentions look like just for being an outspoken woman on the internet.
It's also horrifying because these accounts — the ones sending rape and death threats — are all (as of publication) still active on Twitter. It's horrifying that there is no easy solution to report harassment on the internet. It's horrifying because this has been happening to Sarkeesian, and many other women, for months — years — and nothing has changed.
This is what it's like to be a woman on the internet.