Klara K Network Honors Anita Sarkeesian With 2016 Penguin Award

December 12, 2016

On December 6th in Stockholm, Swedish business network Klara K honored Anita Sarkeesian with the Penguin Award 2016 at  this year’s K-Day ceremony. The event brings together scholars, journalists, and policy makers for a conversation on equality, courage and inclusive leadership.

The Penguin Award recognizes individuals who have acted with bravery and resilience in the face of opposition, in an effort to motivate and inspire others.

Anita with Endurance Award recipient, Pia Sundhage, Coach of the Swedish Women’s Soccer Team

Eye-Opener Award recipient, author and lecturer, Elaine Eksvärd


Klara K CEO Camilla Wagner presenting the 2016 Model Award to Anna Serner, CEO of the Swedish Film Institute

Anita on stage accepting the 2016 Penguin Award

photo credits: Ivan da Silva

 

For Klara K, the penguin metaphor is meant to “show how sisterhood comes together in backing up a courageous woman. To survive the extreme conditions in Antarctica the Emperor Penguins huddle together to conserve heat. The Penguin Award is an endorsement and acknowledgement of the risk and hardship a person takes when stepping out in the frontline, into the cold.”

While in Sweden, Anita was interviewed for Swedish tv about the award,  her work, and the consequences of being a vocal and visible feminist media critic.

Read the full text of Anita’s Klara K speech below.

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On December 6th in Stockholm, Swedish business network Klara K honored Anita Sarkeesian with the Penguin Award 2016 at  this year’s K-Day ceremony. The event brings together scholars, journalists, and policy makers for a conversation on equality, courage and inclusive leadership.

The Penguin Award recognizes individuals who have acted with bravery and resilience in the face of opposition, in an effort to motivate and inspire others.

Anita with Endurance Award recipient, Pia Sundhage, Coach of the Swedish Women’s Soccer Team

Eye-Opener Award recipient, author and lecturer, Elaine Eksvärd


Klara K CEO Camilla Wagner presenting the 2016 Model Award to Anna Serner, CEO of the Swedish Film Institute

Anita on stage accepting the 2016 Penguin Award

photo credits: Ivan da Silva

 

For Klara K, the penguin metaphor is meant to “show how sisterhood comes together in backing up a courageous woman. To survive the extreme conditions in Antarctica the Emperor Penguins huddle together to conserve heat. The Penguin Award is an endorsement and acknowledgement of the risk and hardship a person takes when stepping out in the frontline, into the cold.”

While in Sweden, Anita was interviewed for Swedish tv about the award,  her work, and the consequences of being a vocal and visible feminist media critic.

Read the full text of Anita’s Klara K speech below.

I am tired of talking about hate speech.

Over the past 4 years, my life and my work has been defined in the press and popular consciousness because of what has been done to me, rather than by what I do. The work that my team and I labor over is repeatedly overshadowed by the targeted attacks of hysterically zealous racists, sexists, and homophobes. The net result, as always, is that women’s own voices are drowned out and the substance of our work erased or reduced. We are victimized twice over.

I’m tired of talking about hate speech. I’m tired of the way it has circumscribed my existence. I’m tired of defensively scanning my whereabouts, second-guessing my movements, and upending my plans.

So I’m tired of talking about hate speech. But I’m much more tired of its existence. Despite my bone-weariness with this discussion, I will keep participating. Because ultimately, the commitment to exposing its ubiquity and appalling effects is the first, and most important step we take in wresting power back for ourselves. I am tired of talking about hate speech. But I will.

First: let’s clear up some misconceptions that sadly, and frustratingly, still impede our understanding. Hate speech is not simply a natural by-product of “free speech.” Hate speech is a tool wielded by the reactionary forces that seek to deny the humanity and human rights of women, people of color, queer people, folks with disabilities, refugees, and the economically vulnerable. Hate speech has lead to the criminal obfuscation of white supremacy with the term “alt-right.” Hate speech has lead to the nearly 900 reported acts of aggression, intimidation and violence since the United States elected a demagogue and race-baiter who panders to anti-Semites and Islamophobes. Hate speech has emboldened a dedicated and by no means insignificant number of people into attempting to forcibly eliminate anyone who appears to deviate from the white, middle class, heteronormative Christian standard they believe to be under attack.

But let us not delude ourselves into thinking that the only problem with hate speech is the very real manifestations or “acting out” of that speech. The hateful words, rhetoric, and discourse that has re-erupted into the social sphere represent their own form of violence. Progressive activists and scholars have long documented the emotional and mental effects of this kind of micro or macro aggression. It is not an exaggeration to say that the continual denial of one’s humanity, of one’s right to live and exist safely, enacts a tangible punishment upon its audience. There are many people who take the time to send me and my team appalling threats — and while they may never intend to act out those threats, their intent is to make us fearful. And sometimes, they succeed. Sometimes, by the sheer weight of their numbers and the awful intensity of their vitriol, they succeed. They don’t need to escalate to physical intimidation — they have achieved their terrible aims in no small part by merely typing words on a keyboard.

The second point I wish to make is that the hate speech that has rightfully concerned all of us here today is not new, and it is not confined to members of the press, or visible activists of progressive movements. Although it is tempting, and perhaps self-aggrandizing to position ourselves at the lightning rods of these reactionary bolts, the fact is that vulnerable people deal with this rhetoric all the time. When a “civilian” gets caught up in the culture wars, she has no media attention to shine a spotlight on her attackers and mobilize a Twitter support-fest in her name. She simply has to keep going. When trans women have to endure whispered taunts and shouted slurs when walking down the street, that is damage done — regardless of whether those slurs ever “escalate” to physical blows. When women wearing hijab are confronted by fellow shoppers in a grocery store who yell “terrorist,” they have been victimized, regardless of whether hands were ever lain on them. Hate speech is not just “words.” It is a verbal expression of an inner commitment to violence and aggression.

My third and last point is this: the effects of hate speech are wide ranging: emotional trauma, psychological distancing, alienation and fear. But there are other, external effects, as well. Vulnerable people who are on the receiving end of targeted harassment, stalking, or threats are less likely to engage in the modern digital space. As expected, there are educational, economic, and social consequences for this kind of self-removal. These aren’t simply “unintended consequences,” the deliberate silencing and intimidation of anyone who is not an able-bodied straight white man is the very point of hate speech. What the media likes to playfully call “trolls” are not interested in exchanging civil views; nor are they willing to invest time and energy in rational discourse. Their mission is nothing less than the eradication of the human rights of anyone outside racist, sexist, colonialist acceptable norm.

We must raise our own voices and drown out the rising din of anti-intellectualism, racism, misogyny, ableism, and all forms of oppression. We need to raise our voices together, because it is only by doing so that we have the power to turn the dial from the endless background hum of static that is hate speech and tune into the possibilities inherent in a just and equitable world for all.

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