In full disclosure, this blog was initially inspired by something I saw online about GamerGate. I don’t know anything about GamerGate, except that its supporters and detractors cannot seem to even agree on what it does. For my purposes, and from my point of view, GamerGate doesn’t really matter.
What matters is that there have been hateful, vicious and clearly misogynist threats left on the Twitter feeds, Facebook pages, YouTube channels, and websites of women. Some of these women are in the gaming industries, but some are not. Many are women just like you and me, like your mothers and sisters. Some play games, some are just making comments in support of other women. Many are being threatened.
I’ve seen a lot of arguing back and forth about whether these threatening trolls are involved with the #GamerGate movement; whether or not #GamerGate started to threaten a specific woman; and whether or not those #GamerGate supporters who do not engage in this behavior are guilty by association.
In my opinion, all this talk about #GamerGate is a smoke screen, blocking the real issue — that hatred and violence against women, that abuse in general, is on the rise across the Internet. This reflects the rise in hatred and violence against women which is now found in the “real world” as well. Online, as it were, imitating “real life”.
People need to realize that abuse takes many forms, and sometimes that form is online. Threatening to rape, strangle, beat or kill a woman is a serious threat, in all cases, whether delivered by a note-wrapped rock through a window, on a Twitter feed, or in person.
NO ONE should have to be threatened this way, no one should have to live in fear.
There are those people, I am sure, who think that if a threat is made online, it’s not made in the “real world” and therefore can do no harm. The number of young people who have committed suicide in this country and abroad as a result ob CyberBullying should serve to prove that isn’t the case, but there are those who still believe that if you say it online, it just doesn’t count.
What these people fail to realize is that we live in an increasingly online world, where our information is stored online and much of it — including, in many cases, addresses and phone numbers — are easily available with a short search online.
Whether or not someone who is cowardly enough to make these sorts of threats would go to those lengths to find the person they are threatening; whether the person making the threat is geographically close enough to follow through with these threats is not really relevant.
What is relevant is that the threat is made, and it has a profound psychological impact on the recipient. In many cases, one online threat will prompt additional threats from other people, increasing the terror and humiliation the victim feels.
Whatever the “cause” behind the threats, these threats are nothing more than CyberBullying, which is illegal.
CyberBullying is not restricted to kids harassing each other over something in school. It is any time anyone posts any threat, for whatever reason, and it is, in every case, wrong and inexcusable.
NO ONE EVER DESERVES TO BE THREATENED. Certainly, no one deserves to be threatened because she’s female, doing something that some men feel is something that has been traditionally a male occupation or hobby.
Regardless of what you think about Gamers, or GamerGate or Gaming Journalism, surely we should all be able to understand that.