Tag Archives: accountability

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

Harm reduction, EDM & ‘Molly’

Longreads suggested the tell-all essay on so-called molly and Electronic Dance Music festivals written by Shane Morris.  It is a good read with snappy prose and a strong argument that the EDM festivals are locations where lots of people seek drugs from one-time drug dealers who may sell them almost anything.

But I’m more taken with his follow up essay where he not only answers many of the criticisms and also suggests a series of solutions.

Much of what he suggests is harm reduction – trying to make risky behavior (of almost any stripe) less likely to result in damage.  But it is also a sincere plea for bystander accountability and a change in the culture of drug-users and those promoters who make money on festivals.

I’m only saying that it’s time the EDM community starts acting like the family it espouses itself to be. No more secrets. No more “turning around and pretending you didn’t see that happen.” No more fearing what might happen if you ask for help. No more pretending people aren’t getting hooked on Molly. If everyone in the EDM community collectively decides to help themselves, rather than bending to legislation, we can fix this. If we advocate a culture of safety, health, and honesty, we can correct the course of this ship before it maroons itself on the rocks.

Part I. We need a return of safe, “cool down” areas to EDM events. If we all acknowledge that people are going to do drugs, and it’s just something that happens, then we should also be able to acknowledge that every person deserves to be safe, healthy, and well. If you’re not feeling OK, there needs to be a place you can go and sit down, chill out, drink water, maybe even get a bag of ice and put it on your head.

via Finding Molly: Reconstructing Dreamland | Bro Jackson.

Morris also suggests people “call out the idiots promoting overconsumption,” and for transparency (including drug testing kits for prospective users).   He also commits to making his own music events more safe and offers up “safe word” as the catchphrase for a campaign of communication:

Here is his explanation:

In BDSM circles, using a safeword means things have gotten too much for you to handle, and you need to stop, without judgement. In that regard, I feel its purpose is well served here as well. If you’re at an event, and things have spun out of control for you, a friend, or perhaps a stranger you’re just looking out for–you should be able to remove yourself from the situation and know your safety is the primary concern, without fear of repercussions or judgement.

via Finding Molly: Reconstructing Dreamland | Bro Jackson.

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Filed under communication, dance, do-it-yourself, drugs, health, music, punishment, vulnerability

Bikers against child abuse video

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Filed under do-it-yourself, kindness, representation, sexual assault

Accountability for trolls: Jeopardy edition

Arthur Chu has won a couple of Jeopardy episodes with an eye for strategy.  Along the way he has received a ton of abuse from the inter webs.  He reports in a interview with Slate that his wife encouraged him to engage with the trolls.

I have to give my wife credit for this because she’s a strong believer that dragging trolls into the sunlight to name and shame them is better than ignoring them, and the way she was kind of goading me by retweeting all the offensive tweets and getting me to reply to them got me to see that there were two choices—retreat behind a rock and wait for the trolling to blow over, or consciously engage the trolls, take control of the conversation and own my image as a nerdy rumpled “Jeopardy! jerk” and embrace it. And the latter has turned out to be a lot of fun—and in the end generated a lot more positivity than negativity, though it would’ve been hard to believe that’s how it would’ve ended up that first night of angry people calling me out.

via Arthur Chu, Jeopardy!’s reigning champion, talks to Ken Jennings about the strategy of a quiz show master..

I tend to think that likeliness of success with trolls increases with social status, but this is a good snapshot of the ‘feed the trolls’ argument.

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Describing the call out as oppression: Paula Deen

There is something toxic about people who have public histories of being offensive arguing that being criticized for hateful comments is comparable to experiencing hate itself.

Here is Zerlina Maxwell explaining why Paula Deen’s recent articulation is exactly this kind of hijack of experience.

“In a recent interview with People, Deen said (via CNN):

“I feel like ‘embattled’ or ‘disgraced’ will always follow my name,” she tells People. “It’s like that black football player who recently came out,” referring to NFL prospect and former University of Missouri football standout, Michael Sam.

“He (Sam) said, ‘I just want to be known as a football player. I don’t want to be known as a gay football player.’ I know exactly what he’s saying.”

It’s no surprise that Deen would feel embattled, but as someone who said racially insensitive things, it is a surprise that Deen sees herself as the oppressed, instead of the one doing the oppressing.  How is Paula the victim if she was the mastermind behind the slave themed wedding?  It seems to me that actually being oppressed and embattled by structural inequality and policies that lead to disparate outcomes for people of color is worse than being called out for your bigotry.  And being the first openly gay player in the NFL like Michael Sam is nothing like being a celebrity chef exposed for referring to your Black employees in explicitly racist terms.”

via Paula Deen thinks she’s oppressed like “that Black” gay NFL player.

1.  Writing words or speaking it aloud usually archive ideas marked to bodies.

2. It is worthwhile developing critical vocabulary for this rhetorical maneuver.   It is one of the best tactics to resist the call-out.

3.  Thanks Feministing.  You rock.

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Filed under communication, Gay, learning, media, representation, rhetoric

Women intellectuals under attack . . . on the internets!

The interwebs are structurally sexist – with whole areas where women are disrespected and policed through abuse and threats of violence.

Recently some academic dude wrote some article suggesting that professors  learn about twitter and blogging.  A good reminder to “ask the other question” (Matsuda) when Gwendolyn Beetham points out the risks to women who enter the internet public sphere.

In fact, I cannot think of a prominent woman in the public sphere who has not been the target of sexism, usually in the form of being threatened with sexual assault, which in the case of women of color undoubtedly takes a racist tone.  Amongst countless others, recent incidents of female public scholars who have had these experiences include Mary Beard (@wmarybeard), who was threatened with rape and having her home bombed via Twitter, and Brittney Cooper (@ProfessorCrunk), who was physically threatened while speaking on a panel at the Brecht Forum in New York. If you’d like to do your own test of this, read the comments of any article published by a woman in a mainstream news media outlet – or read almost any mainstream account of women in the public sphere. Indeed, as Mary Beard recently stated in a talk at the British Museum (recounted in The Guardian ), the very real, and very negative, push-back against women who enter the public sphere is nothing new in Western culture: it extends all the way back to Homer.  Although not surprising, it is nevertheless disappointing that Kristof and others continue to ignore the risks that women have faced when entering the public sphere for the past two millennia.

via Women and Public Scholarship | Inside Higher Ed.

Thanks to Feministing’s Daily Feminist Cheat Sheet for the link.

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Filed under academics, communication, feminism, sexual assault, technology