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Misogynist trolls right to be “afraid of women’s voices”


Sarah Cheverton
WVoN co-editor

Anita Sarkeesian, the founder of Feminist Frequency, has become the latest victim of a misogynist trolling and online abuse campaign following her crowdfunding campaign for a video series analysing sexism in gaming.

Her Kickstarter campaign has become the target of extreme abuse, which has been catalogued on her own website and various gaming and media sites all over the internet.

Her crime? Daring to ask the online community to consider funding her idea for a new series examining the use of sexist tropes in video games.

That’s right, folks – an idea. The abuse started before the videos have even been made.

Sarkeesian decided to explore the creation of the new gaming series following the succcess of Feminist Frequency’s previous Women Vs Tropes video series.

Freely available via the website – and recently featured as part of a WVoN feature on feminist viral videos – the series explored the representation of women in movies.

Soon after launching a video promoting her Kickstarter bid and uploaded to YouTube, an online campaign publicised on various gaming forums led to torrents of abuse.

This included threats of sexual violence, anti-semitism and misogynist abuse, a screenshot of which has been published by Feminist Frequency.

The online campaign against Sarkeesian has been extensively covered in the international online and some mainstream media, including The Guardian and New Statesman.

However, although the abuse is important to note as part of the ongoing fightback against online misogyny, the resistance to the threats and harassment of Sarkeesian makes a more interesting point of focus.

Not only did the Kickstarter funding pitch meet its target within 24 hours of being launched,  it achieved 2,468% over its original target when it closed a few days ago.

Sarkeesian asked her followers to help her raise $6,000 – they gave $158,922.

Many trolls spent their time posting abuse, threats and vitriol towards Sarkeesian, her website and her idea.

Meanwhile, almost 7,000 people worldwide turned their words into action, giving their time, money and support.

The reaction from the blogosphere has been phenomenonal. My personal favourite is posted above, from Ill Doctrine and Animal New York video blogger, Jay Smooth, founder of New York’s longest running hip-hop radio show, WBAI’s Underground Railroad.

Smooth’s comments apply not only to Feminist Frequency but to online misogyny everywhere:

“A lot of these dudes if you challenge them will tell you that they don’t have any real feelings about this, and they’re just trolling ‘for the fun of it’; that they don’t really hate women, they just think it’s funny to treat women as if they hate them.”

He continues:

“Only somebody who hates women and sees them as less than human would even think that’s a meaningful distinction and I don’t know what I could say that would get through to someone that’s so invested in detaching from their own humanity.”

Men, Smooth states, “have an obligation to speak out against [misogyny] more often.”

“When you bully and harass a woman for speaking her mind, all you do is show us that you’re afraid of that woman’s voice.”

There’s a lesson here for misogynist trolls everywhere.

Where trolls combine their hate and words, activists combine hope and action.

Where trolls toil to turn time backwards, activists push forward to a fairer future.

And most importantly, where trolls whine, activists win.

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