Parts 1 and 2 of Anita Sarkeesian’s video series examining gender tropes in video games are now available, and are embedded below. In addition to exploring some of the things that most gamers probably don’t think about, the story of Sarkeesian’s series also serves to remind us that misogyny is alive and well in America. Shortly after launching a Kickstarter campaign to raise money for the series, Sarkeesian was inundated with attacks (she gives a personal account here):
Two hours is all it took for her video to go viral with over 100+ misogynist comments. The same video that would later garner tens of thousands of comments and over 300,000 views was barely the tip of the iceberg. What started as typical internet backlash soon grew to include threats of extreme violence on several of Sarkeesian’s personal profiles.
Her social media accounts were targets of false reports of fraud, spam and even terrorism. Hackers tried to break into her website and email account. Some even attempted to locate and distribute her personal information including email, phone and home address. Sarkeesian’s Wikipedia page was edited to include sexism, racism and pornographic images. Finally, a game was made in her likeness called, “Beat the Bitch Up,” where upon a few clicks her picture would grow to be increasingly battered and bruised.
In the time since her campaign launched, it doesn’t seem like the internet has grown up much, as comments on websites linking to the work demonstrate. Commenters on completely unrelated videos also invoke Sarkeesian in a negative way, such as those regarding a version of Donkey Kong that a father hacked to allow his daughter to play as a girl (incidentally, the father in this case inverted the very trope that Sarkeesian talks about in these videos). Reading comments like these is disheartening, but it is good to see that Sarkeesian has not backed away from her efforts. The fact that her Kickstarter campaign far exceeded her goals is also a sign that not everybody on the internet is a sexist asshole – the backlash has also allowed her to reach a wider audience. Enjoy!