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#GamerGate: Is Their Hashtag Really More Important than Women's Lives?

By Courtney Enlow | Think Pieces | October 15, 2014 | Comments ()

By Courtney Enlow | Think Pieces | October 15, 2014 |


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It took me a while to realize the massive implications of Gamer Gate. How terrifying it is. What it means for women online and in the gaming industry. And I feel terrible that it’s taken me this long to talk about it. The hashtag was first used Aug. 27. I looked back through my Twitter feed, and my first tweet about it wasn’t until Sept. 21. To find it, I scrolled past Janay Rice, #WhyIStayed, the first release of hacked celebrity photos, that New York Times “angry black woman” Shonda Rimes article and several other things because it’s been a garbage couple months to be a woman.

To be honest, I didn’t entirely understand what was going on. I’m not a gamer. Never have been. When I first learned of what was going on, I knew it was important for us to cover it, but I didn’t think I was the one to do it, so I asked my fellow writers if someone who was an active gamer could cover it and provide that insight. The ever-fantastic Steven Lloyd Wilson did so. He did what I didn’t understand and didn’t know how to talk about, and I’m thankful for that. But, despite the protests of many, this has almost nothing to do with video games. It’s much bigger than that.

Here’s a quick rundown of the biggest incidents:

The #GamerGate hashtag was first used by Adam Baldwin (of course) when posting a conspiracy video about Zoe Quinn, creator of Depression Quest. The blow-up began when Quinn’s ex-boyfriend posted a rant online saying that she’d slept with men in the industry to get good reviews. This lead to what many swear is a movement around ethics in video game reporting. She was then bombarded with death threats, harassing phone calls to her home and the homes of her family members and many gamers actively attempted to get her to commit suicide.

Then, after speaking out about the so-called “Quinnspiracy,” Feminist Frequency’s Anita Sarkeesian received death threats, forcing her to leave her home.

Finally, this past Saturday, Brianna Wu, developer of Revolution 60, received these and other death threats, forcing her too to leave her home.

Deadspin has a pretty comprehensive rundown of the key issues.

These and many other women in the industry have been threatened, harassed, and “doxxed” (had their personal information shared publically), the most intense of this harassment originating from 4chan and 8chan. Those who speak out have been gaslighted, and there have been concerted efforts to discredit them at every turn.

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Time has clearly not cooled this issue. It has only intensified. They haven’t let up on Quinn at all…

…and just yesterday, an email was sent to Utah State University promising “the deadliest school shooting in American history” if the school didn’t cancel an event featuring Sarkeesian.

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Sarkeesian actually wanted to go on. But, as Utah is an open-carry state, the school couldn’t perform pat downs or checks to prevent potentially dangerous attendees.

Every single thing about this is mindboggling and infuriating and incomprehensible. And, the worst part is there are those who will declare every item I’ve listed above, every life-altering horror, a victory. It is sickening. It is tragic. Someone might be killed over this.

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This treatment of women, this villification of feminists, is in no way limited to the video game industry. This is a comment I got on a post about the celebrity nude photo hacking:

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It’s not the worst comment I’ve ever received. Not by a long shot. But, compared to this kind of treatment, I’m grateful. I’m grateful for that shitty comment. This is not just shitty commenters and trolls. This is terrorism. Just like Steven said nearly two months ago, when I was too weak and unsure to say it myself.

There will be no getting through to the violent, terrible individuals making the threats against these women in the industry and the men who dare defend them. So, I appeal to you, the moderate middle of the movement and those on the fray who, like me, were unsure of the goings on. This movement, this falsely ethical witch hunt, it has nothing to offer you. Do not pretend, do not lie to yourself — this is not about ethical reporting. This is about putting women in their place, and apparently that place is the ground.

And if you are a woman in GG, I implore you to think about how your fellow GGers feel about women, about you at your core. The heart of this issue is not ethics. It’s that a woman’s sexual relationships are something she must be ashamed of, held accountable for, and punished over. Severely.

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This community, perhaps it has given you acceptance and a place in this world, and I know how great that feels. Perhaps you believe this will lead to a true change and betterment of society. But you are on a side out to hurt, to maim — either emotionally, physically, or both. You are on a side that contains white supremacists and neo-Nazis. Don’t be on that side.

Whatever you are after here, whatever it is that appeals to you, is it worth the lives of these women? Of any woman or man who dares to speak out? Of their families and friends?

For way too many people, it is. And it has to stop.


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