[Not tagged as education, for once. This is still part of my philosophy but has no direct teaching relationship.]
It turns out that my mention of Anita Sarkeesian (@femfreq) in a previous blog was horribly prescient. It now turns out, after having death threats made against her (again) for a talk she was going to give in Utah, that Utah’s concealed carry laws meant that any number of people in the auditorium could have been legally carrying weapons and the police could not scan for these or remove them as it was public space. As a result, she has cancelled her talk because she is, quite understandably, wanting to stay alive.
I am incandescently angry today. Because, once again, for having the audacity to say that “Video games have some pretty stupid female stereotypes” and advocating female equality, Sarkeesian has once again been threatened in a vile and cowardly manner and she has had to take sensible steps to protect her own life. Like the other poor women caught up in the sewer of GamerGate who have had to leave their homes because cowardly attackers have published their home addresses and exhorted people to rape and murder them for, basically, being women.
There are many disingenuous arguments being bandied around under GamerGate but, if you look, you’ll note that they’ve been discredited, so now we’re just down to that game that weak men never seem to get tired of – blaming and attacking women because they feel out of control.
I’m sure that some people will say “Ah, but the presence of good guys with guns in the audience will mean…” and then you will stop because, having thought this through, you will realise that human reaction times and the fact that most gun carriers have not trained for urban conflict means that an attacker can stand up and shoot the speaker before anyone does squat. Yes, great, then all of the handgun heroes can shoot down the bad guy – Pow! Pow! Except that people aren’t fungible and gun vengeance will not miraculously bring the speaker back to life. In Utah, guns were used in 51% of all murders in 2011, an 18% increase over 2010, so people have a right to be scared of guns when a death threat (for a ‘massacre’) has been issued. As Ms Sarkeesian wrote herself on Twitter:
To be clear: I didn’t cancel my USU talk because of terrorist threats, I canceled because I didn’t feel the security measures were adequate.
The only way to stop guns being used in a venue is to remove the guns. When a death threat has been issued, the easy availability of guns makes them the most likely form of effective implementation of that threat. But, apparently, Ms Sarkeesian did not deserve a safe venue and her talk had to be cancelled.
(Before anyone starts on my gun fears, I was a soldier and have fired everything from 9mm pistol up to tank weapons, including rocket launchers and grenades. I have no fear of weapons, I just don’t trust many people who carry them around with them all the time for what appears to be no reason, especially in the terribly fragile urban environment.)
This is a terrible day for everyone. As a species, we have failed to protect women. As a state, Utah has failed to provide safety for people wishing to freely express their opinions. As a group, the thugs and bullies who have been harassing women are making the world a horrific place.
A number of you will stop following me today. Ok. A number of you will want to say “Ah, but those women…” to which I say “Shut up and come back to me when you have a sound justification for rape and death threats in the face of criticism, you idiot.” Today I have no patience with dissemblers, “Devil’s advocates” (seriously, he needs help?) and men who want to blame everything wrong in their lives on women who dare to keep striving for an equality that they have not yet achieved. Today I have no time for people who make arguments that more guns make things safer, when all that more guns do is put more guns into the equation, especially in spaces where a known threat is in effect.
I am already worried that, by writing this, I have made myself a target. There are people out there, searching for women and their supporters, so they can bring harassment to our doors, expose our personal details, and drive us off the Internet so that the only voices are theirs. I am proud to be a supporter of women, of their ongoing fight for equality, and for the perfectly legitimate cause of feminism. Tomorrow, I may be regretting this because some little person with a computer has decided to ruin my life. I’m scared and there is no way on Earth that my tiny blog, read by hundreds of people, should have such weight that I should be worried. And, yet, I am because the people who are attacking women and their supporters have made it clear that there is no low point to which they will not stoop in order to silence people that they don’t agree with.
We have built a miraculous machine to send information around the world in microseconds and we are using it to hurl our faeces. If you ever wanted proof of our descent from a common ape ancestor, there it is.
Today, I am furious. And so should you be. A woman was silenced by threats and people stood by and did not do enough to protect her. We should all be furious because this is not the world that we want. Let the last words here be Anita Sarkeesian’s:
I’m safe. I will continue my work. I will continue speaking out. The whole game industry must stand up against the harassment of women.