web stats

CSBG Archive

She Has No Head! – Zen Is Still Nowhere Near The Building

So, I thought about writing about a few different things this week, maybe a focus on some great books or something, but the state of our industry and sister industry of gaming just has me too damn wound up and frustrated to focus on anything else.

For those playing catch up, gaming has been thrown into absolute chaos as it continues to deal with the growing pains of facing some really long gestating problems with sexism and misogyny in the industry. It’s a problem we here in comics know well. Many of us are “gamers” (or players perhaps is a better word) and even for those of us that don’t play games, there’s still a bond between comics and games – as “geek hobbies” we’re sister industries for good or ill. I guess it makes sense that both our industries are pushing on these boundaries and trying desperately to grow past these limitations at the same time and with some of the same disturbing results, but man has it exposed some truly nasty people and agendas.

Cory Doctorow Tweet

The last month has seen a lot of controversy surrounding game designer Zoe Quinn’s personal life, it’s honestly so complicated that I can’t easily summarize it here, but suffice to say that the end result of harassment, doxxing, hacking, rape threats, and death threats are unacceptable even if you’re someone that believes EVERY SINGLE NEGATIVE WORD you’ve read about Quinn. The treatment she has received is absolutely insane and grotesque and included the same crap Janelle Asselin received last spring for critiquing a simple comic book cover and inspired this very site to finally overhaul their forums/commenting and install stricter regulations and moderators. The controversy surrounding Quinn was followed up last week by all of the same behavior – harassment, doxxing, hacking, rape threats, death threats, etc. toward Anita Sarkeesian for her latest Tropes vs. Women In Video Games piece. In case of the latter death threat – Sarkessian was actually forced from her home and had to notify the police. Absolutely unacceptable on every fucking level.

Sarkeesian Threat

Naturally, I thought about writing a huge post about it, except three things:

#1 this problem is so rampant I ALREADY had to write about this issue this year (a post I have re-posted in its entirety below).

#2. I’m not interested at this point in debating the finer points of anyone’s arguments, right or wrong. I’m only interested in stopping the harassment, threats, (and more than threats) toward people who disagree with someone else.

#3. Wil Wheaton already summed up the entire issue nicely in under 140 characters on twitter:

WIl Wheaton Tweet

Really, what more needs to be said than that? Not much. Because no matter how much you might disagree with Sarkeesian – or Quinn or Asselin, or me, or any other woman on the internet (or in real life) – none of these women are threatening to rape and kill you. These women are not en masse hacking your data and putting it online, trying to ruin lives and wipe out bank accounts. That’s it. That’s the end of the discussion. This is unacceptable behavior UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES and it MUST STOP.

How thick is the irony that talking openly about harassment results in increased harassment? How clear is it that sexism and harassment exists as a problem when the knee jerk response to talking about issues of harassment and sexism is to harass and threaten women? It puts a really fine point on the issues…over and over and over again.

Joss Whedon TweetOne good thing has come out of all this – and Quinn, Asselin, and Sarkeesian are tough ladies, so I hope they agree (though I wouldn’t be surprised if they don’t – it’s no fun to be a sacrificial lamb/martyr for a cause – even an important one) – these nightmares have pushed a lot of important, influential, respected people (and even a few relevant companies) to take very vocal stands against these sexist and misogynistic behaviors and attitudes. It does finally start to have the smell of real change when we see this kind of decisive pushback by those that don’t HAVE to stand up and say something. Many have long been allies (and many are even progressives leading the cause) but it never hurts to have it reaffirmed publicly: Badass Digest, ARS Technica, Games.On.Net, Dan Golding, Vice, Motherboard, Gamasutra, New Statesman, Kotaku, Tim SchaferJoss Whedon, Cory Doctorow, Wil Wheaton, Bob Chipman, Neil Druckmann, Anthony Burch, Sean T. Collins, Mitch Dyer and so many more have taken a stand, and if you haven’t, you should too.

In all of this – which can be exhausting and upsetting to read, let alone LIVE – it’s important to come back around to this – said best by Sarkeesian herself, quoting the conquering hero and eminently quotable Buffy The Vampire Slayer:

Fem Freq Were Gonna Win

The following is SHE HAS NO HEAD! – ZEN HAS OFFICIALLY LEFT THE BUILDING reposted in its entirety here and originally posted on April 28th, 2014:

Last week I opted to talk about the awesomeness that was the new Lumberjanes comic Equal Signinstead of the disgusting madness surrounding a well-reasoned critical piece written by former DC Editor Janelle Asselin about a comic book cover. Frequent commenter Dean Hacker called me Zen. We all had a good chuckle.

Apparently you cats DO. NOT. WANT. ME. TO. BE. ZEN.

Because the world and it’s worst denizens have made it impossible to be Zen with the continued onslaught of sexist bullshit.  Absolutely deplorable behavior in the wake of Asselin’s article – and when I say deplorable behavior – I mean things that run the gamut from the appalling posting of a woman’s picture in forums so that she can be further objectified to the alarming yet highly common and terrifying rape threats, to people trying to hack into bank accounts, which…good god man!  And all of this because a woman didn’t like a comic book cover you liked. We also had last week, amidst this storm,  a sexist t-shirt telling women to get their ladybits out of men’s comics.

Here’s a peek:

Fangirl Hate Shirt(sidebar: I wrote this piece last Tuesday as I’m out of town, but yes, I saw the follow up on this shirt from the t-shirt company. It’s still a “shit shirt” [patent pending on that term?] and while I don’t like the shirt with the genders reversed either, the truth is that one [hating men] is basically an aberration in comics and thus relatively harmless, if annoying, while the hating women shirt pictured [and highly profiled on the site] is indicative of a deep sexist problem in our community, a community that has a lot of problems with sexism and women feeling safe and welcomed…so let’s have some context there and not act like we don’t know the world we live in, okay? This “OMG! Double Standards!” makes you look SUPER EXTRA DOUCHE-Y, guys. That said, I am not calling for t-shirt makers to be strung up or shirts banned, [nor have I seen anyone else do so] they have the right to print whatever stupid shirt they want, the same way that others have the right to respond to said “shit shirt” in the form of op-eds – why people continue to miss this part of the whole “it’s a free country” thing is beyond me.)

ANYWAY, the good news is there’s already an awesome “answer” T-shirt by comics colorist Jordie Bellaire and Steven Finch, so once it’s officially released, demand your stores (and such) stock that puppy, and vote with your dollars…and your chests?

Comics Are For Everyone Shirt

Anyway, it was seeing this fantastic shirt, and reading excellent pieces by Greg Rucka and Jill Pantozzi in the aftermath of this newest sexist bullshit that made me feel like I had to jump into the pool. Both pieces are wonderful, and if you haven’t already read them, make a point of it.

My heart swells especially at Rucka’s piece, since he’s not actually a journalist (as Pantozzi is) and is not a woman. We need more and more of our allies – which I believe are the vast majority of the comics creating and comics reading community to begin taking public stands. I can’t do better than Andy Khouri’s exceptional and passionate piece on Comics Alliance that includes a plea to men to begin standing up to this inappropriate behavior in every walk of life. Greg Rucka can’t just man the dude side of the public ship all by himself, guys.

But it’s not just men that need to speak up and stand out, make their affiliations know, it’s women too. It’s all of us that need to come together to stamp out bad sexist antiquated behavior unworthy of us all and our industry. It holds all of us back. I’m a huge fan of Andrew Garfield. I think he’s a fantastic actor and though I don’t know him personally, he seems like a hell of a guy, but good on Emma Stone, for calling him out recently when he made some likely innocent but wrongheaded comments on gender.

I don’t believe Garfield is sexist, I think he probably just hasn’t spent a ton of time in his life worrying about gender roles. He probably also hasn’t been challenged on these issues. Some may think that it would have been better for Stone to be polite and not challenge and potentially embarrass him in public, to pull him aside after and ask him what he meant and explain what is wrong about it, but he is SPIDER-MAN talking to a huge audience of CHILDREN. An audience of young boys and girls who IDOLIZE him, not just as a superstar but as a superHERO. If Spider-man thinks that sewing is “feminine” and “for girls” then a lot of kids are going to as well. It’s problematic for him to – accidentally or otherwise – indoctrinate them as to what is acceptable when it comes to feminine and masculine types/behaviors/activities/etc.

Again, a harmless mistake on his part, but one Stone was dead right to call him out on, and I suspect that Garfield is man enough to agree to that after the fact. Understanding what he was saying to all those kids, and what effect it might have had if left unchallenged, I think he would (and maybe he will publicly if asked about it?) agree that he simply misspoke and she was right to call him out, to address the mistake immediately so that even if it wasn’t completely corrected, the kids could see that his OPINION was not FACT.

None of us are perfect. We’re all absolutely fallible. We come to the table with our own prejudices and blind spots and in many cases what we come to the table with is made worse by our experiences and environments, both those we choose to put ourselves in and those we do not. We all have privilege. The educated person, the civilized person, the BEST person, is not afraid to admit to those blind spots, confront those privileges and learn from them to become even better.

That all sounds rather positive, and encouraging, doesn’t it?

Yeah, but I’m not that Zen today, I wish I was, but today is not that day. So today I’d like to end with a direct response to this absolute nonsense left for Janelle Asselin in her survey (and first published by Khouri with her permission in his piece):

“Women in comics are the deviation, the invading body, the cancer. We are the cure, the norm, the natural order. All you are is a pair of halfway decent tits, a c*nt and a loud mouth. But see, it doesn’t matter how loud you get. It doesn’t matter how many of your lezbo tumblr and twitter fangirl friends agree with you and reinforce your views. You can be all “I’m not going to be silent about misogyny so f*ck you!” all you want. In the end all you are is a pathetic little girl trying to effect change and failing to make a dent. You might as well try to drain the ocean of fish. That’s the kind of battle you face with people like me. We won’t quit. We won’t stop attacking. We won’t give up. Ever.”

Here’s my very public response to that – published under my own name and not cloaked in the cowardice of Internet anonymity and not intended for anyone except people that share the cowardly and disgusting views on display in the above:

Sir, it’s YOU in comics that is the deviation, the invading body, the cancer. You look around and you see more that look like you — likely straight, white, and male – but you cannot see inside them. You assume they are like you inside, but they’re not and one by one they are slowly joining our cause in part because you have made the alternative option so disgusting that they can no longer sit idly by. Many of them didn’t really want to get involved (hell, I hear that, neither did I), but when faced with the disgusting alternative – that the loud minority will proclaim this battle already over and count the silent majority among its grotesque numbers – they’re being forced to speak up.

Our cause – one of simple equality – is joined daily by comics creators and readers everywhere. The aberration is the creator that says, “No, I have no interest in equality. That’s not for me.”

You see, the cancer is inside YOU. You are broken and wrong. You are filled with hate and sadness, and the core messages of our superheroes are long ago lost on your cold dead heart that seeks only to destroy that which you don’t bother to understand.

If women were the only ones standing up and demanding equality – if those of us with tits, cunts, and loud mouths (nothing wrong with those things, son, though you try to use them as insults) were the only ones standing up, you might be right – we might eventually be defeated. But we cannot be defeated because we are not alone. We have an army of good people of all genders, races, religions, and sexual orientations standing with us – including many of the likely straight white males that you mistakenly think are on your side. You are very very loud, but we are LEGION.

It doesn’t matter if you never stop attacking, if you never give up. We will simply DROWN YOU THE FUCK OUT. We will drown you out until all that you have is your tiny dark little hole in which you can try to pretend you matter. We will drown you out with the work we create, the community we build, the diversity we encourage, the variety we celebrate, and the simple fact that the only constant in life is change.

Fight it all you like, it won’t matter. The world was once full of dinosaurs like you that refused to accept the simple facts of change. But nobody is very afraid of dinosaurs any more.

So bring it, yo. We’re not worried. We’re just getting started.


Kelly Thompson is a freelance writer living in Manhattan. She is the author of the superhero novel THE GIRL WHO WOULD BE KING recently optioned to become a film, and her new novel STORYKILLER is out now. You can find Kelly all over the place, but twitter may be the easiest: @79semifinalist

 

 

 

43 Comments

This shit has gotta stop. These sick guys that post rape threats shoud be throw in jail. They make me doubt the conventional wisdom that the Internet is a good thing. It’s also a breeding ground for monstrous behaviour.

And people say that these guys are an aberration, and they might be right, but even if we ignore the fringe element, women still face a disproportionate amount of aggression in the Internet. Males that have columns in CBR will post controversial stuff and are rarely attacked personally. It’s as if people automatically recognize a boundary when they’re talking to a male.

But when it’s a female, it’s as if the floodgates were opened. What would be a disagreement between buddies if the writer had been male, becomes viscious.

These creeps are disgusting cowards who hide behind the anonymity of the internet and spew filth at women. They strike me as having stunted social development and thus no experience or skill in talking to the opposite sex. They blame women for their inadequices and turn them into scapegoats and targets. While I may not, for example, agree with all of Ms. Sarkessian’s conclusions and find some logical fallicies in her presentation, the debate she brings up is worth having and worth discussing in a civilized, polite, and respectful fashion. To start issuing death and rape threats to the point she has to leave her home in order to feel safe is UNACCEPTABLE, period.

Look, we live in America. We are free to disagree with anyone about anything. There are always two sides to any debate, and both can be convinced that they are right. It’s okay to defend your position with passion. But NONE of that gives these misogynistic trolls the right to launch personal attacks of this nature. Using biological sex, gender, orientation, race, or religion based differnces to attack or threaten someone is COWARDLY and UN-AMERICAN. It. Has. To. Stop.

The right to free speech doesn’t give you the right to be a dickhead. in fact, it merely says the government shouldn’t curtail the press. you do have slander and libel laws in the US after all, don’t you?

Yeah, I wish these guys would actually be charged with crimes. That would curtail things much more than any amount of articles about it, to be honest and pragmatic. Admittedly I haven’t been following these cases super closely all the time, but it’s beyond me as to why more (any?) people aren’t being charged. Are the hackers really covering their tracks that good? I think at least one of them would still be traceable. Efforts should be expanded in that direction.

And Kelly, I basically agree with you all on this stuff, but you admit yourself that you’ve written about all this before. If there’s no new news, then why not write about GOOD COMICS again? Not to take anything away from what you’ve written here — again, I agree with you, and it’s obviously totally your call as to what you write about — but a part of me feels like “the trolls have won” every time our enjoyment of the medium and culture is derailed by nastiness.

All I can say is that whatever people’s differences are, it’s a tiny minority who thinks it’s okay to threaten people with rape, or grope them at a comic convention. However much that stuff happens is obviously TOO MUCH, but you’re very right when you say that many straight white males are on your side. We definitely are. Threats, harassment , and groping are not okay in any book, and whenever it happens it should be addressed.

Well said and glad to hear it!
I’m glad more are standing up, but even those of us guys who are standing up, we still have a lot to learn along the way. We’re listening though, and that’s a good start. It’s time to not tolerate that kind of behavior.
My blog may only be the tiniest drop in the pond, but feel free to count it as standing with you too. (Did not mean to do the shameless plug. Meant it as a sign of support!)

Actually the right to free speech absolutely gives you the right to be a dickhead!

There’s a huge difference between someone disagreeing with another persons opinion and someone threatening rape, torture and death because they disagree with that person’s opinion.

You can still be a dickhead, a douchebag, a jerk off and esp. an asshole.

It’s our (actually hugely important) birthright!

If we start silencing all the dickheads (not the people threatening violence) it just makes it that much easier to silence the more “reasonable” people in due time.

It throws a lot of cold water on your right to privacy on the internet. I’d gladly give a little of that up if the people making the threats could be quickly and fully exposed and treated with the full force of the law. They are no more than anonymous cowards, and they need to be branded such metaphorically if not literally.

These people make me ashamed to be a man and a geek

Imraith Nimphais

September 1, 2014 at 2:59 pm

Brilliant piece!

Your closing lines were…quite simply…exquisite! (in all its meanings).

Well said Kelly! We’re with you.

Even the dickheads should do everyone else a favor and stop being dickheads. There are any number of things that you have the right to do that are not right to do. And pointing that out isn’t censorship.

I think it was Randall Munroe that said that if the best argument you have is that it’s not literally illegal to hold your position, you’ve already lost the argument.

These guys generally hate women because they can’t get a woman.

@Greg

Even the dickheads should do everyone else a favor and stop being dickheads. There are any number of things that you have the right to do that are not right to do. And pointing that out isn’t censorship.

If they were interested in doing other people a favor or doing what was “right” then they wouldn’t be dickheads would they?

These are misogynistic creeps, fine let the creeps say their piece and expose themselves for the mouth breathing cretins/dickheads they are. It’s when they move into the territory of threatening speech, advocating rape and murder, that they move from exercising their rights to criminal behavior.

Censorship? Forgive me if the phrase

The right to free speech doesn’t give you the right to be a dickhead.

raises my hackles. That comment seems to lean in the direction of regulating speech/expression.

Even the dickheads get the right to freedom of expression right along side the nice, sensible, people you happen to agree with.

@DonW: I know, right? I wonder why with that kind of attitude. :p

@DonW and @V
You’d be surprised. I’ve known people with the attitudes talked about here, and many of them are married or engaged. Never understood that. The damage these kinds of attitudes inflict do have some women so confused they think it’s what life is supposed to be, so they end up staying with people that espouse those beliefs. Usually at their own personal cost. I can only give anecdotal examples, so I’ll refrain, but it is indeed frightening.

What occurs to me is that we never hear the ending to one of these weirdos. There is never an article saying such and such a sicko has been given ten years for violent and threatening abuse. Please tell me this does happen and if not, why not.

How ironic that at the bottom of this article there is an advert for ‘Russian Senior Dating for Men’
featuring an attractive blonde with an impressive cleavage on show.

Free speech/expression actually does not extend to threatening people. Saying “I’m going to come to [your correct address] and rape you to death” is UNPROTECTED SPEECH. It’s yelling “fire!” in a crowded theater. Threatening violence that you evidently have the capacity and intent to do, or otherwise intending to cause anyone, whether one person or a group of people, reasonable fear for their immediate safety IS NOT LEGALLY PROTECTED and in many jurisdictions is JUST PLAIN ILLEGAL. The minute that guy posted her address and threatened to rape and kill her, he created a credible threat to her life and bodily integrity.

You can be a dick. YOU CANNOT THREATEN PEOPLE.

This has been your 1st Amendment lesson of the day.

(2nd Amendment lesson of the day: She has every right to wait by her door with a shotgun.)

The “Women in comics are the deviation” guy is so scared of women he can’t even think straight. I just wish there was a way to put these guys in front of a mirror where they had to look at who they really are, as opposed to the fake version of themselves they’re so desperate to create.

I swear, this is the core of mankind’s problem. People are insecure and scared of the world, so they latch on to whatever is most convenient to make themselves superior. The more vile they are on the outside, the more freaked out they are on the inside.

Has anyone here argued that threatening rape and murder is legally protected speech?

One little niggling detail:

You wrote that Andrew Garfield’s mistake was probably “harmless” right after you explained the harm that is done when a person kids look up to sends a sexist message. I would say it wasn’t “harmless,” but that it was “unintentional,” “thoughtless,” or even “innocent.” He didn’t mean to do harm, but it is very likely he did do harm by telling the little boys that only girls and the occasional Spider Man can sew.

With regard to the column as a whole: well said. I hold out hope that 99% of these frightening people who write these horrible things just get off on being anonymous jerks; they enjoy the ability to spew transgressive comments and cause an online hullabaloo. I truly hope that nearly all of them are nothing more than that.

But the corresponding fear is of the 1% who are serious; and we know they’re out there. Every few months we hear in the news about a lunatic who acts on these kinds of threats. From notorious, violent lunatics like James Holmes, to stalkers we’ve never heard of in counties all around the country, we know that we can’t afford to assume that any of these assholes are just jerking us around.

There are both Federal and State laws that allow prosecution for this kind of speech. The First Amendment does not protect people from prosecution for “true threats.” A “true threat” is defined as a threat that “a reasonable listener in the position of the person who received the threat” would believe to be true. It does not look at the actual intent of the speaker; it looks to the interpretation of a “reasonable listener” who has the experience and knowledge held by the person who was threatened. Ultimately, a jury of 12 is the arbiter of what a “reasonable listener” would believe (though a judge may act as a gatekeeper to the question). I think most juries would see a threat that includes a specific reference to the victim’s address as being a “true threat.” I think that’s even more likely when the threatened woman has been the subject of many threats, and this threat is more detailed and targeted. Bottom line, I think that the person who wrote that sequences of messages has committed a felony, and should be prosecuted.

The “Women in comics are the deviation” guy is so scared of women he can’t even think straight.

That guy did not even have the guts to use his real name when posting that comment. And I seriously doubt that if he ever actually met Janelle Asselin in person he would have the courage to say it to her face.

When I am posting online, I always try to remember not to write anything that I would not say to someone if I was talking to them face-to-face. Yeah, I admit, I do not always succeed!

I will say, “threatening rape and murder” can be protected speech. Say for example a professional comedian, as part of his routine, makes threats to rape and murder a politician. Every reasonable listener knows that it’s part of the standup routine. Nobody is expected to take it seriously, and most people don’t. Just because someone in the audience does take it seriously doesn’t make it a true threat. Reasonable people listening to the routine understand that it is just a (tasteless, crass) joke. The jury should acquit based on a First Amendment defense. Actually, a judge may not even allow it to go to a jury.

For some reason, Anita Sarkeesian is uniquely horrifying. Her videos are calm, measured and she plainly has huge affection for gaming. I literally cannot imagine being upset by them.

Maybe it shouldn’t, but somehow that makes the whole thing worse.

@Nu-D

Right, which is why I specified “immediate, credible” threat. Posting her address made it a credible threat. Even if he had no intention of going through with it (which, let’s face it, he probably didn’t), he has facilitated anyone so inclined to actually do it, which it would not be hard for her to prove there were a substantial amount of potential offenders. IIRC, the statistic was something like 1 in 20 men will admit to having committed rape at least once as long as you just describe it (i.e. “have you ever forced someone to have sex after they said no?”) and don’t use the word “rape”, so if you have more than 20 men threatening to rape you, there’s a statistical chance that at least one of them actually would go through with it if he had the chance (but probably more, if that’s how they react to women having an opinion about video games.)

@Alexa-

Thanks for your thoughtful response. I certainly wasn’t arguing with your earlier comment; just providing a more precise legal explanation for anyone interested.

I do disagree with your use of the 1:20 statistic though. Assuming that it’s accurate, I would suppose that the majority of those men are recalling a moment in their lives when an ambiguously consensual encounter turned into an ambiguously non-consensual encounter, and in hindsight they have come to recognize a shift they did not or would not recognize in the moment.

That’s a far cry from being something he who would make a violent online rape threat and follow through on it. Far, far fewer men would be willing to engage in the conduct that we’re concerned about here. The 1:20 number really has no application except perhaps to set an unrealistically high end to our best guess regarding how many of these threats are credible.

To be clear, I’m not making a comparison on the relative culpability of the date-rapist v. the internet stalker. I’m just noting that the frequency of the one is not really related to the frequency of the other.

I’m also not saying that none of the online rape threats need to be taken seriously. I just don’t think that one in twenty is an accurate number. Maybe more, but I suspect fewer, are serious threats.

I also think it’s important for us to note that the phenomenon of misogynistic online harassment it not limited to “geek culture.” It’s a common thought that these are30-something unmarried comic book geeks with repressed anxiety and aggression towards women. I think that’s an unfounded assumption. As evidence, I would direct everyone to an article in The Atlantic Monthly online, on Jan. 7 of this year, by Conor Friesdorf, titled “When Mysogyinist Trolls Make Journalism Miserable for Women.” this problem exists well outside the boundaries of “geek culture” and pervades America as a whole.

“Please tell me this does happen and if not, why not.”

Paul – there are several factors at work as to why not. They all boil down to the fact that the laws haven’t been re-written sufficiently to accommodate advances in technology. Most police officers wouldn’t know how to investigate a twitter account (to say nothing of the number who would write this off as just Internet nonsense). Suppose you get the one who does know how, and suppose that person actually gets through to somebody at Twitter that can, and will, help them (rare, apparently). Now they hit a brand new wall — the guy who sent the message is in another state, so they have no jurisdiction over that person. Probably the jurisdiction would be with the FBI — but the FBI isn’t interested in something this low-level.

Now, to be fair, it has always been difficult to get the police to actually act on “threatened violence”. Basically, the police force is largely reactive, not proactive, and the proactive departments are always under-manned and assigned to “worse” crimes (as defined by society). The Internet just adds several more excuses for why they usually won’t bother to respond.

Nu-D –

This is something that has troubled me before. Sometimes discussions of misogyny in comics and games turn to geek bashing. As if being awkward around women were the same as being aggressive towards women. Misogynist males come in all shapes, forms, and sizes. They can be found in any hobby or profession.

I will concede that geeks that happen to be misogynist may have greater trouble councealing it. Guys that have more social sophistication know better, but don’t necessarily feel better, and sooner or later they show their true colors too.

But you know, this is a site about comics and we are comics fans. We gotta clean our own house first, right?

But you know, this is a site about comics and we are comics fans. We gotta clean our own house first, right?

No. I don’t think so. Unless you can identify some factor that differentiates comic book geek mysogynists from run of the mill mysogynists, I think focusing narrowly on “our own house” risks misdiagnosing the problem, and thus proscribing the wrong solution.

The problem is not geeks, it’s not comic books, it’s not the internet and it’s not free speech. The problem is misogyny specifically and sexism generally. Unless there’s compelling evidence that the comic book geek is a different kind of mysogynist, I don’t see value in narrowing our focus. It leads to too easy stereotypes which, I believe, are misleading and counterproductive.

What Anita has had to endure has been horrific, at best. I am not even a gamer yet I always find her videos intelligent, informative and well researched and presented. I agree that nobody should have to endure such harassment in any form regardless of whether they criticize a game or a comic book. I mean, who could argue otherwise with a leg to stand on?

I also wholeheartedly agree that the venues of comics and video games can have some things in common, as some of the audiences and biases seem to overlap. If one looks at society now as opposed to 1994 or even 2004, comics and video games have become far more mainstream. More comic book films have been made in the past decade than in the previous two. And I believe more films based on video games have been made since the year 2000 than in the 90′s or definitely the 80′s. At one time the bastion of lonely nerds, appreciating both comics and video games have become accepted in society, and even plots in mainstream sitcoms. Unfortunately, the added attention has shone some light onto some of the uglier sides of the hobby, and right now we’re experiencing their reaction. We nerds always said we’d do it better if we were in charge; well, we are. Now it’s time to prove it. Prove we’re better than all the bullies who laughed at us, instead of merely using a new medium to become just like them.

Rock on, sisters. Never let them win. Especially because they won’t.

Nu-D –

I think care must be taken not to further stigmatize geeks. When discussions veer into that direction, I’ve always made my disagreement clear. However, how do you fight sexism? One of the ways is by calling attention to it, wherever it raises its head. We must start somewhere, after all. Our own house is a pratical place to start. This is a comic book site, so it deals with the comics industry. When it happens in my job place, we deal with it here too. Saying that the problem is bigger and general, while true, runs the risk of complacency, of waiting for the answer to come from… I dunno, the government? Future generations? At worst, it can become Catholic Church-like corporativism, protecting the “honor” of the institution by ignoring or even covering up misbehaviour of its members.

@renenarcio,

It’s not the stigmatization of geeks that concerns me. It’s the risk that if we focus on misogyny in geek culture, we’ll misidentify the causes of the problem. Misogyny is not caused by too many violent video games, or by too many T&A comic books. Those are symptoms, and only minor reinforcing causes. It’s caused by internalized messages from early childhood influences. But if we focus entirely on comicdom, it’s easy to let certain aspects of the culture cloud our vision.

Really excellent discussion on aspects of feminism on MPR today. The discussion is mostly over at this point, but look it up in the archives if you’re interested. http://www.mprnews.org/story/2014/09/03/daily-circuit-roxane-gay

I was going to weigh in with some of what’s been discussed here, but I’m at work.

Wil Wheaton must be very sheltered. Women on the Internet threaten to rape and murder men they don’t like all the time. Here’s a link to a page that collected just a few of the brutal threats people have recieved:

http://slatestarscratchpad.tumblr.com/post/96169183246/of-course-you-cant-recall-it-you-live-inside-an

I think the “best” example is the 13-year old boy who got doxxed and received death threats for daring to say that maybe comedians should be allowed to make rape jokes.

I think the main difference is that when women make these threats they are seem as rogue crazies who are not representative of feminism as a whole, while when men make these threats they are seen as typical members of their group. This is an obvious sexist double-standard.

The horrible things those women in the above link said are not a sign that the feminist movement is rife with misandry. It is a sign that bullies sometimes use feminism as an excuse to bully. And the horrible harrassment people like Quinn and Sarkeesian are recieving is not a sign that gaming culture is rife with misogyny. It is a sign that bullies sometimes use defending fellow gamers as an excuse to bully.

“I think the main difference is that when women make these threats they are seem as rogue crazies who are not representative of feminism as a whole…”

There is no double standard. I see plenty of people characterizing feminism as a whole by the actions and words of those rogue crazies. As if feminism were just another name for a sport that consisted in running around castrating men and shrieking in glee.

The one thing I agree with you is that threats of violence, jokingly or not, are a bad thing, regardless of the gender of the one who makes them. Some people try to pass “Die in a fire” as “ironic humor” or thumbing their nose at privileged people, but I don’t buy it.

@Ghatanathoah;

There is no double standard, as the vast majority of rapes and murders, not to mention non-fatal physical violence, other sexual assaults, threats, and stalking, are committed by men. It makes a lot more sense to treat threats by men against women seriously than it does the reverse. Women making the threats really are rogue crazies, whereas many of the men making threats are your next-door neighbors.

Death threats are always inexcusable. I definitely agree with that. But let’s try not to gloss over the fact that Anita Sarkeesian is a content-stealing con artist, or that Zoe Quinn is an objectively terrible girlfriend, okay? Painting them as heroes or martyrs or something just because they’re the victims in this case (and they absolutely are, just so we’re clear; I in no way believe they deserve this kind of treatment) is intellectually dishonest. Again, not condoning the abuse they’re received, or even implying that on some level they deserved it; it just turns my stomach to see Joss Whedon praising Sarkeesian for her incredibly poor efforts.

Oh, and Wil Wheaton’s post was pretty ignorant. Maybe he needs to check out Tumblr some time if he thinks women don’t threaten to kill men they don’t like.

@Rene

You’re quite right that there are definitely some people who take these rogue crazies as representative of feminism. What I should have said was that there was a double-standard in the mainstream media, not in humanity as a whole. When I see reports in the mainstream media the only people who consider the crazies as representative are a few conservative pundits on the very edge of mainstream.

@Nu-D

People of both genders say all kinds of crazy things on the Internet and the amount of people who actually follow through on what they say is extremely small. Men might be more likely to follow through on those threats, but the probability is still tiny. The majority of the harm comes from the bullying these people do online, not by the tiny minority of threats that they actually follow through on.

You are also conflating “men commit more violent crime than women” with “men anonymously threaten violent crime on the Internet more than women.” One does not follow necessarily from the other. It’s possible that women and men make the same amount of false threats, even if men are slightly more likely to make genuine ones. And since the majority of the harm comes from the bullying rather than the genuine threats that means that it’s likely both sides are equally problematic.

I also take issue with your statement that men making threats are probably my next-door neighbors. If “men commit the majority of violent crime” was the only piece of data that we had to work with that would still be problematic (since we’re talking about all threats, not just ones that are followed up). But as it happens, we have more data than that.

We have a lot more data in fact. And it happens that, while most violent and sexual crimes are committed by men, the overwhelming majority of men do not commit violent or sexual crimes. Rather, these large amount of crimes are committed by a small amount of repeat offenders who comprise (according to the study I link to below) about 4% of the population. Here’s the study:

http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/blogs/sexist/2009/11/12/rapists-who-dont-think-theyre-rapists/

As it happens, 4% is the percent of the population psychologists estimate have Antisocial Personality Disorder.

So it’s certainly overstating your case to say that men making threats are probably my next-door neighbors.

@ Ghatanathoah

One element which fudges some figures is unreported crime. Naturally, there is no way to gauge it but that does cause any figures to not be as iron clad as carbon dating. Rape and sexual assault alone is often considered a vastly under reported crime. Again, there is no way to say to what degree this would affect study totals, but something to consider.

Secondly, 4% of the population is still a lot of people. It’s 4 out of 100, or 2 out of 50, or 1 out of 25. Statistically, that’s maybe one person in a crammed subway car during rush hour (perhaps 2). Or 1-2 people in a college class. Or, yes, some people in a neighborhood. So while even statistics aren’t the whole picture, it does explain how some, especially those who have been targets of violence or assault (or are very aware of it) may be very concerned when these things hit home in areas people go to in order to escape and have fun – like comic books or video games.

@ Ghatanathoah –

Sadly, society has not adapted to the fact that the blunt of violent crime is commited by people who have brains that literally don’t work normally. There is no rehabilitating, curing, or teaching psychopaths.

However, when people talk of a culture of rape, they are not implying that all males are potential rapists. They’re alluding to environments that enable said psychopaths to prosper. A major university in the city I live is being protested because the regulations are too lax on sexual abuse, for instance.

Can one find a lot of aggro comments by gamers? Yes, one can.
Can one find a lot of aggro comments by comics fans? Yes, one can.
This correlation led the first poster on this thread to conflate the two groups. But is it accurate?
I googled “death threats” and “wrestling fans”: one of the first links led me to a piece about wrestler Ric Flair getting death threats.
I googled “death threats” and “sports fans,” and the first ones up referenced Flair, Kyle Williams and Josh Morgan.

It is not a rationalization to point out that this kind of crap goes on in many, if not all, walks of life. There are apparently thousands upon thousands of dumbasses in all those arenas who have nothing better to do than vent their aggressions with cowardly death-threats.

All such offenses should, indeed, be met with the full force of legal retribution, regardless of whether they spring from “nerd rage,” “sports rage,” “politics rage,” or whatever. But the big reason such offenses happen so often is that you usually can’t find the schmucks.

So yes, if you personally overhear someone making a death-threat to anyone for any reason, you ought to report it, or maybe even, in some circumstances, tell the sucker what you think of him. But if the sucker pulls a knife on you, maybe you will find out that some kinds of subculture are a good deal more toxic than what Dana Stevens is pleased to call “fanboy culture.”

Leave a Comment

 

Categories

Review Copies

Comics Should Be Good accepts review copies. Anything sent to us will (for better or for worse) end up reviewed on the blog. See where to send the review copies.

Browse the Archives