Monday, October 27, 2014
The Lines Between Us
In July of 2011, Rebecca Watson talked about an experience she had at a conference. At the time, she didn't really identify as feminist. She mostly identified as an atheist and a skeptic, interested in all of that from a pop culture and communicative sort of way. Not a scientist, just a woman - a cool woman who called herself a Skepchick, along with a handful of other atheists and skeptics.
She talked about an experience where after listening to her talk all day, both professionally and personally, about how she didn't like being approached for anonymous sex - a man followed her into an elevator at 4am and asked her up to his room for coffee, a drink not normally drunk at 4am or in hotel rooms. She said, "Guys, don't do that," and then tried to give context by which that made her uncomfortable.
The flood of hate didn't start against her until a week later, when in a thread on the topic Robert Dawkins, a respected figure in the atheist not-really-a-movement-but-buy-our-books, took her to task by comparing Watson to a fictional Muslim woman he called "Muslima."
The whole thing would go down in history as "Elevatorgate", and shockingly more than three years later she and it still gets brought up, and she still gets hatemail, death threats, and rape threats over it.
In May of 2012, Anita Sarkeesian decided to start a kickstarter to support making more videos for her Feminist Frequency video series, this time specifically on video games. She asked for $6000 to make six videos, it was featured on the front page of kickstater, she got her money within 24 hours, she and many times her goal (with associated stretch goals) within the month.
She also got a flood of rape and death threats, including a video game which allowed you to "beat up" her image. Her public places on the internet were hacked, including her wikipedia entry. Among the rape and death threats was a growing portrayal of her as Jewish in the most anti-Semitic manner possible - very odd since she's actually Armenian.
She has been talking about the misogyny she received in several venues; now we know her public appearances were always accompanied by violent and credible death and bomb threats. She spoke every time, once the local police had secured the site, and only did not speak when the police told her they couldn't bar people with guns from being in her audience in Utah.
In August of 2014, gamergate was launched to attack Zoe Quinn. Her alleged crime was sleeping with someone other than her boyfriend for positive game reviews; the person she allegedly slept with never reviewed her video game. Subsequently, another game designer named Brianna Wu (creator of Rev 60, an awesome iOS game) and Sarkeesian, among others, were added as targets. The attacks on them, and many other women who rose to prominence in a variety of ways, is one of means by which women are dismissed from public life; it is a way of perpetuating an unequal and entirely gender-driven divide. It also affects many more people - women who rose to prominence in different environments but don't end up making the evening news because they aren't white, or they aren't cis gendered, or a thousand other characteristics and moments of chance.
What amazes and saddens me the most is how often these women are still blamed for the treatment they receive, even by self-identified allies. I have read people critique Sarkeesian for not going into a venue where people had guns because that was what the trolls wanted, so by definition they "win". So many of these women have been asked why they don't just stop doing what they are doing, as if that would end the hate. All of this focus on what the targets should do, and so little on what we and others can do to stop the ones actually causing the problem - the abusers and threateners. They, instead, get dismissed as children, or unemployed, or unable to have sex and thus inferior - all continuation of sexist denials of the humanity of men, even men who chose to terrorize women.
The lines between us are made by our own thoughts, and reinforced in committee.
( More pictures here. )
Skin: Izzies, Irene
Sparkles: Folly, Rainbow Sheen
Hair: Runaway, Oni Hair and Horns
Ears: Illusions, Seelie
Eyes: De La Soul, RooMee
Eyelashes 1: SLink, Mesh Lashes
Eyelashes 2: Flugeln Brise, 05-A
Eyeliner: cheLLe, Cleo Calld
Lipstick: Mock, Lucir
Wings: Deviance, Sidhe
Hands & Feet: SLink, Rigged Mesh Hands & Feet
Nails: A:S:S, Fairy Wings
Clothing: FATEplay, Surie Tad
Shoes: Lassitude & Ennui, Edenion boots
Location: Friends Life
Light Settings: Phototools, July Light 03
Water Settings: Glassy
Photographed by Deoridhe Quandry
Post processing: Cropping, only