The irony of this situation is massive enough to develop its own gravitational field. These harassers want Sarkeesian to stop talking about misogyny in video games. So they unleash horrifying misogyny on Sarkeesian herself. To, I guess, make the point that video games are just fine? That misogyny in games is having no broader cultural effect? That there is no problem here? Because this kind of behavior is normal? If I wasn’t half convinced that the men harassing Sarkeesian weren’t in fact actual trolls — like, the kind that live under bridges with only rocks for friends — I would wonder how they’d feel if their mom or girlfriend or wife was receiving the same threats.
No. They want her to stop talking about misogyny in video games because they want women to stop gaming. They want people to stop caring about misogyny in video games because everyone agrees that women just shouldn’t game. They want women out of gaming culture so they don’t have to think about women as people. They want to have a space where no one will complain about misogyny because they don’t see it as a problem, and they think women won’t receive these kinds of threats if they just shut up and bake cookies and let men do the talking.
This “how they’d feel if their mom…” line of thinking is such bullshit because you know what? They might not like the abuse the woman in question was receiving but they would agree with it. They would tell the woman in question to be quieter, to step back, to just leave it to them. I’ve heard them do/say exactly those things. “Well, you brought in on yourself.” “You know how it is.” “I wouldn’t say it that way but they’re right.”
These “trolls” are enjoying it. They are having fun. This is fantasyland for them. They have an excuse, a justification that has brought them social approval within their circle, to unleash the things they spend the rest of their lives not saying about women. They don’t want Sarkeesian to stop. They want to beat her. Her stopping is not good enough. Her consenting to quit is not good enough. They want to make her stop. They want to win.
It is the abrogation of her consent and the pain they cause her—and, by proxy, those who relate to her—that brings them the most pleasure. They do not get the same thrill if she walks away. It is not enough for her to shut up. They have to ignore her “no”, silence her voice, cause her pain, and ensure that others like her know they’ve done it without any consequence in order to get their full thrill.
If that sounds sociopathic, abusive, rape-y, and worse to you—then you’re getting the idea.
….Hate crime legislation, which the right wing likes to argue is punishing people differently for the same crime depending on who the victim was, even while their next segment will argue that we’re not being tough enough in punishing terrorists, is exactly the same thing. Go look up the number of lynchings that occurred in the century after the Civil War in America. The number is astonishingly low, far lower than you might expect given the dark cloud those crimes still leave over this country. But it was sufficient to ensure that African-Americans in the south lived in a state of terror for a century, well-warned of what fate awaited those who stepped out of line. That is what terrorism is and what it does. It uses horrible actions to force a larger group of people to live in fear.
We don’t punish hate crimes more severely because of some misguided affirmative action of victimhood. We do it because in a democratic society, one in which we believe in everyone being equal, there is something far worse than murder: forcing a community to live in fear of exercising their rights to free speech and assembly and all the other constitutional sacraments.
That makes hate crimes terrorism. Different words for exactly the same phenomenon.
And the same logic applies to what we’re seeing online this last week. And it’s the same thing that we saw in the wake of the Santa Barbara shootings, when people argued that men were killed too, and that murder is murder regardless of the victim. You know what that fedora wearing sociopath was? He was a terrorist. Whatever his actual body count, or who the bullets actually cut down, his intent and accomplishment was to generate terror, to ensure that women were afraid that if they stepped out of line of his view of their place in society, they could end up with a bullet in their head.
That’s the dictionary definition of terrorism.
Publicly wishing rape and torture on women who disagree with you? It’s the same damned thing. And if we start to treat it with the same furious disgust that we do with the traditionally terroristic, then it’s something that we can end. Think it’s absurd to suggest that catcalling is a form of terrorism? You likely wouldn’t have a problem with men in suits having a serious conversation with the brown guy yelling at passersby what bits of sharia law he was going to cherrypick out and inflict on you the next time you were home alone. Because that person is terrorizing the community, and destroying its ability to exercise its rights free of coercion.
The same standard applies to anyone raining hatred down on women upon Internet message boards. Terrorism isn’t just lynching or blowing up buildings. It’s a way of life that can be waged as easily with words as with bombs.
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