On June 19 2019, Polygon published a feature article “The Anita Sarkeesian story”. This is our belated response:
Anita Sarkeesian knows harassment. After Tropes vs Women, harassment meshed with waves of harassment; cisgender white men viciously harassing the harassment into women and marginalized identities until harassment was all they could see.
If there is one thing Sarkeesian has always known, it is harassment. Even from a young age, she recalls being asleep in her crib, only to be awoken by Gamergaters, heaping rape and death threats, simply for daring to be an infant who would grow up to change the world.
After the success of Tropes vs Women in Video Games in 2011, harassment intensified, with white male gamers harassing Sarkeesian, women, and other marginalized folks. The 2014 wave of harassment that was #Gamergate soon followed, sending waves of harassment, doxxxxing, harassment and even more harassment. Sarkeesian braved the winds, the barrage of harassment taking up all her time, but she was strong enough to ignore the harassers harassing all she held dear to herself. But this was not enough. The waves of harassment led to Sarkeesian feeling she was unable to undertake vital feminist analysis, but she persevered, critiquing the harassing masses of white male gamers.
Harassment ensued, but Sarkeesian knew her work was incredibly vital to a free and functioning society. With the help of fellow women and minorities—such as ideas folk Jonathan McIntosh and fellow FemFreqer Carolyn Petit—Sarkeesian saw the light at the end of the tunnel, and realized she must become a tour de force. For harassers on the internet, too busy profiting from Sarkeesian’s fair, reasonable and fearless analysis, they didn’t care about anything other than pure, vitriolic harassment and the harassment of women and minorities.
The police weren’t much help, even playing into the hands of abusers and stalkers by claiming she had never filed a report on a threat against her life (she had). Her work has been constantly excoriated by the awful men of YouTube, profiting from her research with little more than insults and thinly disguised calls for further abuse.
—Actual quote in the article
Sarkeesian knew her Tropes vs Women series was so important to the future of humankind, that even waves of harassment would not stop her. She swam through the tumultuous currents of haters and harassment—video gamers, white men, cops—until she saw the light at the end of the tunnel. Her fair, balanced reporting, helped with a glut of fair, balanced research, as well as showing the harassers Feminist Frequency was helping shape the world into a better place. The mass of fair, balanced evidence was too much for the harassers to bear: The harassment erupted into a maelstrom of white, male tears; cries and threats from whiny angry men on the internet who could not handle a woman on the internet with anything vaguely resembling an opinion. These harassing white men—such shoe0nhead, Roaming Millennial, and Lauren Southern—could not bear the overwhelming glut of truth and honesty in Sarkeesian’s fair, balanced, mass evidence proving once and for all that video gamers were harassers and white men the worst harassers of all.
The amount of research involved took decades, almost centuries—much more time than any of these angry white harassers on the internet could even muster for their own blatant harassing rip-off videos. Many of these harassers simply vomited onto their video cameras for ten minutes and clicked Upload for the entire harassing reactionary world to like and subscribe. Not so for the folks at Feminist Frequency. Sarkeesian and Petit recall spending months and months on end, meticulously researching for episodes, only to become aware mid-sleep, of harassers appearing in their dreams, threatening to rape and doxxx them. Petit tells this reporter of the struggle of being forced to play exciting, engaging AAA games, comparing it to a hellish hellscape where darkness overruled everything. Sarkeesian agrees; the idea of reading from an overpriced teleprompter attached to her flashy camera in an empty room sent her into waves of traumatic flashbacks and nervous breakdowns.
The videos were a major hit, successfully presenting Sarkeesian’s ideas with bags of research. The haters went to town, offering various ripostes, mostly exercises in bad faith whataboutism.
—Actual quote in the article
Even the waves of support from women and minorities all over the world couldn’t stop the deluge of white male harassment permeating into every waking (and non-waking moment) of Sarkeesian’s life. Long since accepted by the mainstream canon as a heroine for masses of marginalized women, Sarkeesian is having none of it. She believes the thousands of dollars she’s made on Kickstarter, the glowing sales from her book with Ebony Adams (History vs. Women: The Defiant Lives that They Don’t Want You to Know), the interviews with talk show hosts like Stephen Colbert, the full-time income she’s earned from talking engagements and speeches, the 200,000 subscribers on YouTube, and the fact that anyone who even merely slightly criticizes her is labeled as an alt-Right fascist reactionary white male garbage human: it’s all just a mere coincidence. This is nothing. Barely a blip on the radar. The harassers are everything. Ever since that fateful year she decided to change the fate of the entire earth—nay, the entire universe and multiverse—Sarkeesian’s life has changed irrevocably. She’s grown and changed due to the multitude of harassment; harassment, much like the classic 1998 song Blue (Da Ba Dee) by Eiffel 65, pervades everything:
[Harassers] are the people here that walk around
[Harassment] like my Corvette, it’s in and outside
[Harassment is] the words I say and what I think
[Constant harassment] are the feelings that live inside me
—Not actually from the article, but edited quote from AZLyrics.com
So, much like every fearless crusader throughout history—the suffragettes of First Wave feminism and the now maligned Second Wavers—Anita Sarkeesian
is simply giving up. [Oops. Sorry. Didn’t mean to put that in. — Editor] has decided, having established the path to freedom and peace in the pop culture sphere, to move onto greener pastures. YouTube as a medium is dead, and Sarkeesian knows where the future lies: podcasts and interviews on mainstream TV. She knows she’s saved the world; all 223,000 believers in truth and freedom have already subscribed to her YouTube channel; all 728,000 Twitter folk agree and understand the value of her tweeting about disgusting harassers on Twitter. Why would she use YouTube when nobody even uses the platform anymore? As the non-existent remake to the 1979 hit Video Killed The Radio Star says, “Podcasters killed the YouTube star”.
Star Trek critique is where the future of fearless feminist reporting lies, and we know Sarkeesian and her
unpaid interns [Dammit, who wrote that!? — Editor] at Feminist Frequency are already undertaking the hard yards to change the world. This is honest activism.
Without the conversations we generated and the pressure that we indirectly put on games companies, I think we’d now be living in a much more Duke Nukem world of video games than we are today
—Actual quote from Carolyn Petit in the article
Sarkeesian only wishes she could have done more. She knows she has educated the fascist harassers known to harassing white men as “game-makers” to the best extent she could, but it’s like a double-edged sword, excuse the phallic reference. On one hand, many game developers and studios are changing their entire games to fit a Sarkeesian Approved narrative (instead of simply an egalitarian approach, because we all know that’s just a branch of Radical Centrism, which is just an alt-Right dogwhistle for Fascism), and claiming we should stop listening to video gamers in clickbaity articles in a seeming repeat of August 2014. On the other hand, harassment trumps everything, and harassers have enveloped all good that Sarkeesian believes she could do in the world. Every time an achievement is made, Sarkeesian merely thinks of harassment, and because a small minority of people on the internet are harassers, that must mean we are living in a Duke Nukem hellscape. Insert Trump reference here.
Polygon writer Colin Campbell, as well as Sarkeesian, sums this up in the most perfectly splitting way possible:
Part of the problem is that many of those who are willing to be persuaded have been persuaded. And those who are not will never come around. “They’re either not paying attention to the conversation or they are, and they’re on the other side of it. And I don’t like talking about it as a ‘sides’ thing. Because you either care about the humanity of people or you don’t. That the side you’re on.
—Actual quote in the article
You’ve heard it here first, folks. If you disagree with Sarkeesian’s cherry-picking of video games to suit a money-making agenda, and you definitely don’t want to give someone lots of Kickstarter and Patreon money to simply gossip about Star Trek with her friends, then you don’t care about humanity. Humanity is filled to the brim with harassing sociopaths.
All she wanted to do was make activism easy, because as everyone knows, feminist activism is an easy job and should have no consequences whatsoever. It was easy work. And no one listed. And look what we have now. A Duke Nukem dystopia lead by the reincarnation of Hitler himself: Donald Trump. If only we had listened to Anita Sarkeesian back in 2012.
If you haven’t guessed already, this is a parody. If you don’t know what a parody is, there are some great parody sites on the internet—ClickHole (alongside its political subsidiaries ResistanceHole and PatriotHole) and The Onion—and some pretty average ones—Point & Clickbait and The Betoota Advocate. Have a look at those.
Of course, someone like Anita Sarkeesian definitely did receive harassment back in the day, and she did make some enjoyable, valuable videos, such as Toy Ads and Learning Gender from November 2010. But we should be able to read a feature article from well-established press like Polygon without it being so fluffy one could invariably pick the article up, pat it, and it would purr uncontrollably. What we should have had was a semi-balanced article about Anita Sarkeesian, because balance when talking about those in Gamergate is an exercise in futility. But this article didn’t need to be parodied, because it already is a parody.
Just stop. Stop talking about Gamergate figures like Anita Sarkeesian and Sargon of Akkad. Their fifteen minutes of fame have long ended. Just stop.
As Regina George in the classic 2004 movie Mean Girls said:
Stop trying to make [Gamergate] happen. It’s not going to happen.