Harassment, Misogyny and Silencing on YouTube

June 7, 2012

Here is a very small sample of the harassment I deal with for daring to criticize sexism in video games. Keep in mind that all this is in response to my Kickstarter project for a video series called Tropes vs. Women in Video Games (which I have not even made yet). These are the types of silencing tactics often used against women on the internet who dare to speak up. But don’t worry it won’t stop me!

[MAJOR TRIGGER WARNING]

NOTE: These 100+ comments were left over the course of a two hour period on YouTube. They represent only a tiny fraction of the hundreds and hundreds now thousands of similar comments left on my video. The screen capture is unedited.

YouTubeComments

In addition to the torrent of misogyny and hate left on my YouTube video (see below) the intimidation effort has also included repeated vandalizing of the Wikipedia page about me (with porn), organized efforts to flag my YouTube videos as “terrorism”, as well as many threatening messages sent through Twitter, Facebook, Kickstarter, email and my own website.  These messages and comments have included everything from the typical sandwich and kitchen “jokes” to threats of violence, death, sexual assault and rape.  All that plus an organized attempt to report this project to Kickstarter and get it banned or defunded.  Thankfully, Kickstarter has been very supportive in helping me deal with the harassment on their service. All my backers have also been amazingly encouraging over on the project page too!

155 Responses to “Harassment, Misogyny and Silencing on YouTube”

  1. These YouTube comments are exactly why your videos need to be made.

    There is a deep wellspring of misogyny in the gaming community.

    After seeing this, I donated to your Kickstarter.

    Thank you for the work you’re doing.

    Like

  2. Couldn’t stomach reading much of that. made me angry and depressed at the same time. more power to you and your work, those comments clearly show the need for it.

    Like

  3. Anita,

    I love your work. Glad to see you well funded. Of course it’s more than a bit amusing how the little twits boosted your budget.

    Collecting and posting the comments clearly has the added benefit of exposing the behavior of the sub-lithic denizens to people who have hitherto been unaware of the kind of crap “uppity” women have to put up with just for expressing an opinion.

    I do find it strange how they can remain amused by such boring and repetitive nonsense just because it is reprehensibly vile.

    Like

  4. I really appreciate all the videos you’ve created. They’re really educational to me, and sometimes they’re actually really funny. I’m sorry that there are such terrible trolls in the world, and that you have to be the one suffering for it now. I know this can’t possibly help much, but I have supported you for a while and will continually support you every step of the way.

    Like

  5. Personal favorite comment: “She’s A Jew.”

    Well, of course, that must mean that her entire argument is invalid then. God, can’t have Jews giving opinions or anything. Classy. Current and classy too. Gotta love the bigots who seem stuck in 1940s Europe.

    Keep up the good work and ignore morons.

    Like

  6. I am looking forward to the series, as I recall we watched one of your videos for a Women’s Studies class. Your work is superb and informative.

    Like

  7. I don’t know why I bothered reading any of those comments. I knew what I was getting into and only made it a small fraction of the way down. It’s pretty sick.

    I always love your videos. They are very educational.

    While perusing the Mary Sue minutes after reading this, I stumbled upon this YouTube video. It’s pretty perfect. So those who enjoy a little bit of comedy in the face of tons and tons of sexism… enjoy:

    Like

  8. Having failed to make it through the whole list of comments (because I am apparently a more sensitive plant than I knew), I had just come back over here to post this jolly song. I hope you can draw some comfort from the knowledge you’re not alone. Wait, let me clarify: there is no way to be comforted by knowing that there are enough loathesome sexist bigots to menace everyone with an ounce of creativity or humor, it’s true, but you might draw comfort from knowing it really doesn’t reflect your worth – you struck a nerve, obviously, an important nerve, and from looking around at the other people who strike those same nerves, you should be comforted by the company you’re keeping.

    Like

  9. I have been a long time watcher and supporter of your series. I have used your videos to deepen my own critical analysis of sexism in media, and have recommended your videos to hundreds.

    I used your videos as research material for my own papers in college, and gave a presentation involving two of your videos [REMIX: Too Many Dicks & The Bechdel Test…] to open the conversation about male gaze and the inherent lack of depth in female characters in pop media today.

    From the bottom of my heart, thank you for all you do. Thank you for standing against the bullshit that we are fed, and the horrible treatment you receive. I’m sure you know, they louder they yell the more you know you are doing something truly incredible.

    You have been an inspiration for me, and countless others. The work you do, the conversations you start at home and in the classroom are groundbreaking and uplifting. You are helping raise a generation with the tools to understand, the voice to speak out and the freedom to create non-oppressive art.

    Thank you. [soon as I do some budgeting, I’ll donate what I can]
    -Donny :)>

    Like

  10. Well. Those are some awful, bileful statements. At least they showcase the necessity for videos like this.

    The worst thing about videogames are probably the unending swathes of terrible people and their prejudiced, idiotic excuses for opinions.

    I hope that the funding success of this series will help to show game developers that there’s no need to keep catering to these bastards.
    I’d like to express hope that some of the bastards in question might actually change their minds as well, but it seems a good bit beyond far-fetched at this point.

    Anyway. Keep up the good fight.

    Like

  11. I think I read about half way down and just became tired of it all. I find it interesting that they don’t seem to understand that hating everything equally doesn’t make their hate acceptable, amongst many other obvious logical fallacies. Oh and their inability to see the difference between caring about how you look and thinking that looking good is all that matters.

    in parody,

    1940 – [women] want to be treated equal
    2012 – [women] STILL want to be treated equal. WTF, why aren’t they treated equal yet?

    Some of the world appreciates your efforts, please ignore the misogynistic douchebags

    Like

  12. i want to say: “what is this i don’t even…” but sadly, i’m all too aware of what this is. thanks for the work you’re doing, please know you have supporters…

    Like

  13. Disgusting behaviour. I would say I’m shocked but twitter and YouTube continually prove there are people out there who spew a constant stream of negativity and hate. Often these twitter/youtube accounts can be seen to poke hate at such a diverse range of topics/people that I console myself that they love the act of provoking itself. They can’t possibly have such strong opinions on so many topics. Its a desperate need for attention. I just don’t get it.
    I really hope you continue to not let them get to you, although it must do at times. Sad times.

    Like

  14. I have enjoyed your FF series for a while now, and was very happy to hear of your plans for a focused critique of sexism/tropes in video gaming. Your insight is usually stellar and thought-provoking, and I will figure out a way to contribute to your work soon, I promise. In re: the comments, thank you for posting this so I can share it out. People need to have the rug lifted and see the roaches scurry, so they know to keep up the fight.

    Like

  15. It’s really a shame that someone who works so hard has to go through all of this. And I am always surprised to read comments like those posted under your vid, even if I’m aware I shouldn’t be. People can be very ignorant, and it saddens me.

    Like

  16. Keep up the good work Anita. These comments made me sick to my core. I do not know how you keep your chin up, but I sure am glad you do.

    Like

  17. Best of luck with the series – I look forward to watching it! Don’t get to hung up on the comments.

    Like

  18. Anita, I have always loved and admired your work, and share your videos with just about anyone who will listen (and some who won’t, lol). Thank you for your wonderful insight and especially for using this litany of hate as a teachable moment. Is youtube or Wikipedia disabling any of these accounts for hate/violent speech?

    I’m going to echo the comment ahead of mine. I don’t know how you keep your chin up, but I’m so, so, SO glad you do.

    Like

  19. I can’t understand the commenters on the youtube video.

    How can a reasonable and well argumented video about a known issue of the videogame industry receive so much disgusting, unmitigated hatred?

    My theory: The internet, and specially, the gaming community, is full of bigotry (as a guy and a gamer, I’m ashamed to be part of this community)

    You have my support, Anita!

    Like

  20. SOLIDARITY with this one! -a white privledged transwomen!

    Like

  21. Anita,

    I admire your work and I really enjoy your videos. I think you bring a lot of interesting points to the table when you discuss feminism in pop culture and I generally always take something away from your videos, think about things in a different manner to how I did before or learn something new.

    There will always be idiots. It doesn’t matter what you do in life, there will always be people who think they know everything but really know nothing at all. Closed-mindedness is like a plague these days and people refuse to open their eyes and consider differing points of view but they expect you to ‘respect their opinions’ and stop doing something that you love because they think it’s not important.

    Screw ’em! I donated to your Kickstarter and I personally can’t wait for your new series. I am a woman who works in a video game store so I think the content of this series will really resonate with me. I get over-looked by customers all the the time because they think a girl won’t know anything about games and technology and I get hit on and spoken to inappropriately by male customers because I am something of an oddity being a female gamer. I can’t wait to hear what your thoughts are on the industry.

    All the best!

    Like

  22. Way for them to prove your project is NECESSARY.

    Like

  23. I can’t believe I read all those comments… I can’t believe how many of those comments you must be receiving. A large number of the commenters spoke about how men are depicted in video games. Sure, there are some problems with the portrayal of masculinity in some games but at least men get to have actual CHARACTERS. Women in video games are frequently treated like background decoration. After reading all those comments, I’m looking forward to your video about how to respond to common defenses of sexism in video games even more than I was before.

    Like

  24. A lot of the time it seems to me that the attitudes that pervade gamer culture are actually worse than the problems with the games themselves. But I’d imagine that they reinforce each other. The men who left these comments are the “hardcore” gamers who play video games like fifteen hours a day. When you dedicate a majority of your life to obsessing over material that you don’t question and don’t think is problematic at all, and that material contains images of women are objects… well, these are the opinions you come away with.

    Question: are you going to involve these reactions in your documentary/ will you be covering misogyny in gamer culture?

    Like

  25. “Games are marketed towards men! therefore sexist overtures are ok!” *bashes head into the floor* some of these arguments are so weak. And thne there’s the guy that accuses us of not even reading their arguments when it’s nothing but ad hominen’s

    Like

  26. I was livid until I started to realise they were all really, really stupid.

    Good work, I’m so unbelievably happy to see how much support you’ve received despite the sickening number of pathetic idiots who are trying their gosh-darned hardest to feel powerful for once in their mediocre lives.

    Like

  27. […] infuriated gamers started by attacking her YouTube account, eventually moving on to her Wikipedia page as well, defacing it so much that it was eventually […]

    Like

  28. […] sexist jokes to threats of violence and sexual assault. Anita has archived a sample of these messages. Here are some examples of the sexist […]

    Like

  29. Being an artform only a couple decades old, video games and their culture are still in a state of flux. I can’t say I’m surprised at the huge backlash that pointing out the gender problems with games is causing in the community, considering that it just seems to be history repeating itself; if you’re interested, check out the history of photography, it’s transition from “novelty” into “art form” is exactly mirrored to what’s going on in the game world (not being considered art, women being excluded, etc). And on the bright side; photography has a very sizable population of women in it today.

    Thanks for doing your videos:)

    Like

  30. Unsurprised at the male video gamer rage. Idiots. Backed. Look forward to the series.

    Like

  31. As has been stated, if anyone doubted that this was a definitively necessary issue to cover. . . well, those responses offer all the proof anyone should need. I’m sorry you had got attacked by the “self-absorbed assbag” contingent of my gender. Hopefully it’s not too late for the knuckle-dragging unibrows to learn a thing or two.

    Like

  32. Holy fuck.

    The sexism doesn’t surprise me. The QUANTITY of sexism surprises me. It’s bad that it doesn’t surprise me more. But I am still fucking gobsmacked at the anti-semitism on YouTube. When did blatant racism come back into fashion? I figured THAT was still a faux pas. >:c

    Like

  33. I would just like to say I’m sorry for the hate you’ve received. That is all.
    Good luck on your project.:)

    Like

  34. This just manages to prove your point! Why else would they get so whiny and defensive? Props to you, seems like you’ve really touched a nerve with a lot of these trolls.
    Love and support!

    Like

  35. Wow. thank you for being so strong, and choosing not to delete these comments. they are disgusting to read, i haven’t been able to read them all. i think my heart vomitted a little. yet, this story is to be shared, to raise awareness about misogyny.
    stay strong.
    i fully support your project.

    Like

  36. It upsets me that such a great publishing platform has a comment section mostly populated by hideous excuses for human beings. Well done for keeping the comments up and ignoring the haters.
    What annoys me most is the commenter that doesn’t understand the application of value to your project. “I don’t see how it would cost $6000 to make” – seems like they miss the entire concept of Kickstarter. People are donating because they believe in your project, and think that you should be rewarded for creating such a valuable series that will be available to everyone for free. It’s not just about production values – it’s about investing in a great project that will enrich lives. And for those saying “what makes you so special”, maybe if they actually peeled themselves away from pissing all over YT comment sections to create something and try and get some kind of funding, they could have achieved what you have. But no. They’ll continue to piss away.

    Like

  37. These idiots are so backwards. Good job. What you are doing is important, keep it up!

    Like

  38. Oh: I’m not sure if this will make it in there, but my pet hate in fantasy-themed videogames is boobplate armor. — Daniel Schealler

    It’s a natural progression from the Chainmail Bikini. With a nod to all those Wagnerian opera costume conventions.

    I’m a pencil/paper/funny dice gamer from the Seventies (with a weakness for damsel-in-distress scenarios). You saw the same thing re women in gaming back in the Seventies, when D&D was the exclusive domain of geeky white boys like me. While my gaming group and club (Expeditions Ltd, Cal State Fullerton, 1976-80) had no problem with the few female gamers of the time, we did hear some very nasty horror stories about female gamer treatment in the gaming community.

    Like

  39. Keep up the good fight, there are male gamers out there rooting for you.

    Like

  40. This is so shocking. It’s amazing how the perceived anonymity of the Internet brings out the worst in people… well, men…. well, boys. So much hate and ignorance.

    Like

  41. what upsets me almost as much as the sexist hate speech…

    … the fact that no one in this comments thread can seem to grasp the concept of film production financing. yes, people, the free videos you watch on youtube COST MONEY TO MAKE. all video production costs money to make. COME TO TERMS WITH THIS.

    Like

  42. Wow. Those comments were appalling.

    Please remember that the dumbest people in any group are always the loudest.

    Good luck with your project.

    Like

  43. Anita,
    I think your work is amazing and really appreciate what you are doing for women and gaming – the trolls are just upset because they have so little power in the real world they are now scared of losing it in cyberspace. Hold your head high there are so many more who support you and the trolls just prove your work is needed. BTW – it was because of hearing about completely ignorant reaction by trolls to your kickstarter project and website that I learned about your great work – thanks trolls!

    Like

  44. Hi Anita, I have thought the exact same thing about video games for a long time. They get away with a lot of racism and sexism, just because they’re ‘games’ and not ‘the real world.’ Well, games inform the people in the real world, so they ought to be made in ways that don’t shape stereotypical views of groups of people. Thank you for bearing through all this crap – and my god, I had no idea something so basic and sensible would stir up so much – and I can’t wait to see the series.

    Like

  45. This is seriously scary. I never doubted that sexism was rampant or that frightening bigots blamed feminism for their own feelings of insecurity (not to mention the fact that they never get dates). Anita, thank you for doing the work you do. It is important and a necessary correction, something I can show my sons in a few years.

    Like

  46. Anita,

    Your work is brilliant, necessary and powerful.

    You handled their reactions with grace.

    Yes…they claim that feminists complain and never listen…sounds like a bit of a projection doesn’t it?

    They should read Derailing for Dummies. It was made for them…yes, because misogynists just understand what it’s like to be marginalized.

    Your message is accepted by those who are open-minded, educated and respect equality.

    Thanks for your work. I am personally inspired by your videos.

    – Justina

    Like

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