Futile anger at Internet misogyny

Anita Sarkeesian released her latest episode of Feminist Frequency, part of her “Tropes vs. Women in Video Games” project this week…you will be shocked at how women are treated in this medium.

I’m angry. I’m angry that misogyny exists and there seems so little I can do about it. This week, Anita Sarkeesian released her latest episode of Feminist Frequency, part of her “Tropes vs. Women in Video Games” project. You will find it to be scholarly yet accessible. And you will be shocked at how women are treated in this medium.

Feminist Frequency has been around for years, but this particular project was funded on Kickstarter and immediately met with misogynist backlash (including someone making a video game where the player physically assaults Ms. Sarkeesian)

The episode released this week gained even more attention when some famous people like Joss Whedon tweeted about it. Ms. Sarkeesian received rape and death threats. She called the police and stayed the night outside of her home. She then posted some of the threats on Twitter.

I will do my best raise my daughters to be as strong as Anita Sarkeesian…but I worry because they will live in a world that will require them to have this strength. Ms. Sarkeesian shouldn’t have to deal with this crap. The worst thing that Ms. Sarkeesian should fear is a scholarly rebuttal, not serious threats to her person.

I’ve written before about the struggle I feel as a parent of daughters between wanting them to not accept the world as is it, yet be cautious of legitimate violence that is done to women. My daughters will face other struggles that I never did or will.

Now, I have to protect them from the anonymous misogynists of the Internet. I’m aware of John Gabriel’s Greater Internet F*ckwad Theory, but the rampant Internet misogyny is different than “normal” trolling.1 Rape threats against women who say “women shouldn’t be raped” exist in the context of an entire culture that tells women to be afraid. These men exist to silence women. They want women to be afraid. They don’t want work like Feminist Frequency to exist, so they scare Ms. Sarkeesian. And they scare all the other women who read about Ms. Sarkeesian. Threats like these aren’t just about one scary person scarring another person; they are about repression.2

I don’t want my daughters to have any fear about speaking their mind, except for the normal human reasons.3 I worry that we are closer to the dystopia of a Margaret Atwood novel than we realize.

So… I’m angry. I’m angry that this type of misogyny exists. I’m angry that the people making these threats probably won’t be caught. I’m angry at the culture that gives sexual threats so much sharper teeth. I’m angry that while I can see how things could gradually get better over time. I also see how easily things could get so much worse, so quickly.

I don’t know what to do to make the world better for my girls. But here’s what I pledge to them and all the women in my life:

  • If you are sexually harassed, assaulted, or raped, and you choose tell me about it, I will believe you without condition.
  • I will recognize and call out misogyny in my interactions with other men.
  • I will work to be mindful of my own passive sexism and correct it.
  • I will accept criticism of my own sexism and work to correct it. I’d rather be called out than not.
  • I will be angry with you. If you are being treated as less-than-fully human, that deserves my outrage.

  1. Not that we should accept that either. 
  2. Certainly authors of scholarly works in different areas receive threats, but there is something particularly vile about women being threatened with rape for speaking out against rape culture. Context matters. 
  3. Will what I say hurt someone? Do I believe what I am saying? Is what I’m saying true? 
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Sam Davies

Sam Davies is the father of two daughters (ages five and eight) who lives in Northside Richmond. He and his wife Kat are trying their best to not raise sociopaths.

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