Anita Sarkeesian and accountability for online harassment

Anita Sarkeesian does really good critical analysis of video games.  For that work she has received death threats and brutal online harassment.  What do you do with this kind of vitriol?  Sarkeesian explains her approach in an IGN interview:

I have a few strategies for dealing with harassment. First having a good support network is important. Whenever possible I try to look through the worst of the comments and messages with friends who can offer moral support and witty observations. Second, I never respond to any of the hateful messages, emails or comments directly. Its just not worth it on a tactical level or frankly, on an emotional level. You really can’t have a well reasoned argument with folks spewing blatant sexism all over the place.

Instead, after long discussions and careful consideration, I decided to document the abuse I was receiving and strategically post portions of it online. I knew that by refusing to be silent, and making the abuse public, I ran the risk of further enraging my attackers and becoming even more of a target but ultimately I felt it was worth it to try and bring more attention to the epidemic of sexist harassment that women face everyday just for wanting to be full participants online.

via Full IGN interview with Anita Sarkeesian | Feminist Frequency.

Sarkeesian also notes some potentially fruitful tactics to think structurally about accountability.

When it comes to the question of accountability, we obviously need our service providers to take online harassment seriously with built in structures and functionalities that actively deter bad behaviour and actually encourage good behavior. We also need to be creating a larger cultural shift away from impunity and towards a measure of social accountability.  This is a long process of course but it starts with community members especially men publicly calling out harassment and challenging misogyny when they see it. It’s critically important to make it clear that abusive behavior will not be tolerated in our digital spaces.  These small personal actions might not immediately change the mind or world view of the person doing the harassing, but if enough people speak up it can definitely help to create an environment where perpetrators will feel less comfortable and less supported in their abusive behaviour. Harassers might think twice before making a sexist, racist or homophobic comment next time around because they can’t be sure that their fellow gamers will just ignore or go along with it.

via Full IGN interview with Anita Sarkeesian | Feminist Frequency.

I also like her response to the idea that she should “grow a thicker skin.”

AS: Honestly, this is kind of a difficult question to answer. The events in question have of course had a pretty substantial impact on my life both professionally and personally. I would be lying if I said that it isn’t sometimes a struggle to deal with this kind of persistent vitriol on a daily basis.  I think one possible response to this much vicious hostility would be to simply become jaded and cynical or to “grow a thicker skin” so to speak.  But I don’t think that the price of admission to the world of gaming should be to have to disconnect from your emotional capacity or distance yourself from your own humanity. I don’t think that’s a fair trade. Its simply not ok to ask people to jettison their ability to feel in order to deal with a constant barrage of threats, slurs and abuse. So instead I try to balance it all by focusing more on the tremendous outpouring of support for my project. That incredible encouragement has really inspired me and deepened my convictions about the work I do and I think is an indication that the industry, and gaming culture more broadly, is already in the process of changing for the better. Although, this metamorphoses may be slow and painful at times, there can be no doubt that change is happening and will result in a better more inclusive gaming culture for everyone.

via Full IGN interview with Anita Sarkeesian | Feminist Frequency.

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Filed under communication, critique, feminism, media, video games

Remember Leslie Feinberg as a revolutionary Communist

Leslie Feinberg has left the world.  In the Advocate, Feinberg’s partner Minnie Bruce Pratt describes the radical politics which made Feinberg such an inspiration:

She died at home in Syracuse, NY, with her partner and spouse of 22 years, Minnie Bruce Pratt, at her side. Her last words were: “Remember me as a revolutionary communist.”

Feinberg was the first theorist to advance a Marxist concept of “transgender liberation,” and her work impacted popular culture, academic research, and political organizing.

Her historical and theoretical writing has been widely anthologized and taught in the U.S. and international academic circles. Her impact on mass culture was primarily through her 1993 first novel, Stone Butch Blues, widely considered in and outside the U.S. as a groundbreaking work about the complexities of gender. Sold by the hundreds of thousands of copies and also passed from hand-to-hand inside prisons, the novel has been translated into Chinese, Dutch, German, Italian, Slovenian, Turkish, and Hebrew with her earnings from that edition going to ASWAT Palestinian Gay Women.

In a statement at the end of her life, she said she had “never been in search of a common umbrella identity, or even an umbrella term, that brings together people of oppressed sexes, gender expressions, and sexualities” and added that she believed in the right of self-determination of oppressed individuals, communities, groups, and nations.

via Transgender Pioneer Leslie Feinberg of Stone Butch Blues Has Died | Advocate.com.

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Filed under class, feminism, memorial, representation, resistance, trans

Daryl Hall and Chromeo: swimming, home rehab and “Tenderoni”

Daryl Hall is such a boss.  Here he is inviting Chromeo’s P-Thugg to swim in his 1700s farmhouse with the baller indoor pool before launching into Chromeo’s Tenderoni with the crew.

Strong music and a great moment for the talkbox.  Oh, and salute eighties musicians who put in work with a big glass of red wine.

Here is “No Can Do” from the same session.  

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Filed under dance, funk & soul, music

Justice for Mike Brown: disrupting the symphony

Beautiful music.  A moment of public dialogue interjected into a space for beautiful music.   I don’t know how I missed this  St. Louis symphony showdown.

Elizabeth Vega on the conception of the symphony as a protest space.   Daily KOS reports:

Elizabeth: Two weeks ago, Sarah and I participated in a direct action at Cardinal Stadium. We did a series of banner drops at a baseball game with folks. We are both middle aged I am a grandmother and I am brown and Sarah is white. People were incredibly rude and racist to us at the game. They booed us. Told us “Pants up dont loot” etc.. They clearly saw what they wanted to see. We were escorted out in handcuffs and chanted “No justice! No Peace!” It was a rough night where we didnt feel any love. Sarah suggested that night, jokingly, that perhaps we needed another venue. The next day she said she wanted to do an action at the symphony. I was on board and immediately brought on Derek. When we found out the next performance was a requiem we had to do it.  It took us about two weeks among planning other actions and events for the national mobilization. We are all very busy but carved out about five hours total to recruit, plan and organize.

via Requiem for Mike Brown protest at St. Louis Symphony exposes both white privilege and support.

Thanks to feministing for the suggestion, link and video.

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Filed under art, class, human rights, memorial, music, protest, representation, resistance

Van Halen & rape culture: Jamie’s Crying

This morning I decided to burn a CD of the first Van Halen studio album.  As I arrived at work, I was deep in a lyrical analysis of “Jamie’s Crying”.

In addition to being the sixth or seventh best song on the record, it is also a funky track about consent.  Sung from the perspective of a young woman who said no to a ‘one night stand,’ and is now sad that the only romance her prospective lover wants is quick sex.  (Hence, why she is cryin’).

It seems like an interesting take on consent.  In this case, the lover pressures Jamie and Jamie refuses.  I appreciate that the pressuring lover simply ups and leaves when “Jamie wouldn’t say alright.” But the prevailing message of the song is that if someone doesn’t sleep with the band, they’ll never get any other interaction (‘gone forever.’).   A sort of nod to consent in a forward motion toward rape culture.

Cue Van Halen groupie reel.

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Filed under music, representation, sexism, sexual assault

Limitations of solidarity: Vanderbilt rape

A few months ago I wrote about two tactics of solidarity with a survivor of sexual assault.

I’m looking at some recent press and it turns out that neither was all that effective and may not be very survivor-centered.

Survivor-centered means that the focus of analysis and decision-making reflects the desires of the survivor.  It is an ethical lens that is valuable in fighting against rape culture.

In the case of the fraternity rape of a Vanderbilt student who reported the incident.  I had previously appreciated that the editor of the newspaper had held accountable the fraternity message board which encouraged retaliation against the survivor, calling her the “girl who ratted.”

Well that hasn’t stopped the survivor from experiencing a lot of harassment.  Here in an interview she makes evident the retaliation she has received.

S: I’ve been approached by people I’ve never met before a number of times and verbally harassed. People have threatened to testify against me and say that I am crazy. I’ve also been approached a number of times in social settings and been yelled at and even booed by multiple people. Things that people have said to me were: ‘you suck,’ ‘we had so many parties planned that we can’t have now because of you,’ ‘do you really think that’s a reason to fuck over a whole fraternity,’ ‘you’re ruining all of their senior years.’ I’ve been called ugly, a slut, and a liar by people I’ve never met. They claimed to make sure every fraternity ‘blacklisted me and all of my friends.’ I was asked to leave a different fraternity and I’ve been labeled as a risk by some others.

I’d like to immediately clarify that these are the actions of individuals and I do not believe they reflect the fraternity or Greek Life as a whole. This is just my response to those who claim that I have not been retaliated against. These individual actions together comprise a larger, unacceptable culture that needs to change.I am also incredibly impressed by the kindness of others who haven’t been afraid to stand behind me.

Also, many are trying to discredit the incident because I had consumed alcohol. But if girls can’t walk into a fraternity after drinking without the fear of being sexually assaulted, that’s an issue. Alcohol does not excuse sexual assault, which is stated in Vanderbilt’s sexual misconduct policy.

via Interview with the girl that ratted – The Vanderbilt Hustler: Safety.

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Filed under academics, communication, feminism, protest, representation, sexual assault

Stevie Wonder: Talk Box studies 103

Stevie Wonder on the David Frost show extending the notions of human expression.  I’m gonna see if I can make the ending note of this song my cell phone ringtone.

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