Friday, March 20, 2015

What I Wish I Could Say To Those Who Harass Me Because I Play Video Games

I wanted to share this video, not because of my new found respect for Anita Sarkeesian (I still don't wholly agree with her on some of her assertions and viewpoints), but because it needs to be seen. It appeared on my Tumblr feed thanks to Wil Wheaton (yes, that Wil Wheaton) and it's been eating at me ever since. Even those who argue vehemently against Sarkeesian's views are in agreement of this video and the message behind it.

Speaking at Ideas at the House, Sarkeesian gave a brief, eye-opening lecture titled "What I Couldn't Say."

"I couldn't say f*ck you." Female gamers are ostracized daily, visually and verbally through cyberspace. The internet is a wonderful place; a sanctum for ideas and self expression. And because of this, it has bred a legion of those who say as they please without consequences. Larger social media sites like Twitter and Facebook are unable to handle the spam and harassment requests efficiently, and as such, it continues. I was perturb to hear Sarkeesian say that she receives death threats daily. Not weekly. Not once every 3-4 days. Daily. And she was angry that it has become a part of her daily life. You can hear her voice cracking at that sentence, not because she was on the verge of tears, but because she was pissed off. She screen caps the threat, forwards it to the FBI, the local police, blocks the person, and deletes the post. It's a routine to her, and it shouldn't be.

While I don't have her life, being a female gamer and having put myself out there on the internet for people to read my articles, it does make me a target. Weekly, on here, on my Facebook fan page, on my Twitter account, I'll receive at least 3 inappropriate messages. Sometimes it's more, and sometimes it's less. The weeks where I receive no notes are a sigh of relief. It's something that I've dealt with for years, before this blog began. I couldn't tell you the last time I've used XBox Live chat or PSN to talk to someone who wasn't a friend while playing a game. I know I'll be inundated with comments about sex. Or I'll be called a bitch for standing up for myself. Or if I don't accommodate to their requests. Or if I win the match. Or if I ignore their comment. Pretty much any time I log in I'm a bitch. But so is your girlfriend, or your mother, or your sister, or your daughter, or your wife because they don't give in to that random male's request to "show your tits." And you know what? If you fight back you're labeled every terrible name in the book, and on Urban Dictionary. If you speak up, you're a feminist (because that's a dirty word once again) who hates all men. If you try to start a movement, you're a whore, a slut, a c word that rhymes with runt. If you're silent, you're expected to take the abuse and ignore it. There's no winning in this situation.

At the same time I'm incredibly grateful that I haven't blown up to epic proportions in my career. Because then I would have to deal with more of the bullsh*t that Sarkeesian experiences daily. Let's be frank: it's bullsh*t.

To be clear, I'm not talking about people making comments that disagree with my viewpoint or provide criticism. I'm referring to sexually suggestive content and potential threats against my life. All because I play video games and talk about them.

I don't care if you're not a Sarkeesian fan. It's 4 minutes of your time. If you can't spare 4 minutes today, then you need to stop being so damn busy and live a little. She is a person. A living, breathing human being. It's okay to disagree, but argue the words. Death threats, violence, sexual assault are not the answer. They add to a constantly growing problem. Who you're threatening is a real person. No one deserves that kind of harassment. No. One.


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