This never ceases to be shocking. If you are a woman talking about sexism in video games, you will be showered with the most horrific threats, particularly via Twitter.
Anita Sarkeesian is part of a two-person team running Feminist Frequency, a video web series that explores sexism in pop culture.
For the past two years, she’s been documenting how women appear in video games and how female video game characters are very often portrayed as sexual objects, damsels in distress, or disposable murder victims.
And because she’s been talking about this, she’s been subject to untold threats. On a daily basis, she receives tweets that threaten to kill her, rape her, beat her … many using very graphic language, ick, you get the idea.
Sarkeesian just shared on Tumblr a mere one week’s worth of threats on Twitter. (Read at your own discretion, a lot of them are pretty disgusting.) Dozens of them, all from different accounts. And all because she’s pointing out that the imaginary characters in make-believe worlds are largely undesirable stereotypes and trying to get the game industry to up its game on that front.
She’s openly talked about such threats lots of times. She was a big target during the Gamergate controversy last fall, where some people argued that it was the male gamers who were being unfairly stereotyped.
Things got so ugly for Sarkeesian that she cancelled a public appearance because of death threats.
We keep hoping that things will get better in the game industry and for the people speaking out against sexism, or any “ism” (racism, ageism) in the tech industry.
Earlier this month, other victims of Gamergate created an organisation that will help victims of online abuse fight back.
Twitter in December has said that it is rolling out more controls to help people report abuse. That’s good, although it could perhaps do more.
For instance, we contacted Twitter and asked why it didn’t automatically screen for and report death and rape threats. We’ll update this post when we hear back.