The past three weeks have been difficult. Not for me personally, but for an aspect of progression in the world where we attempt to have a civil discourse regarding everything from race to gender to religion to science.
Last week, and the week before, Ferguson, Missouri became akin to a war zone that you see in some foreign country. Some wind swept place in a distant land with names that you can’t pronounce but over time they become common place because they’re on the new cycle 24/7. Ferguson became that, and so did Michael Brown and the scores of other unarmed, black youth who were executed by police.
And the right wing news extremists have been doing their level best attempting to lie and defraud and twist the truth to make it look like Michael Brown was a thug, and not a victim. Let’s be clear, whether or not Michael Brown was involved in a robbery (which he wasn’t) or whether or not Michael Brown was engaged in a struggle for a police officer’s gun (which he wasn’t), he did not deserve to be shot. He was killed with a shot through his skull, an executioners tactic, no more, and no less.
Michael Brown isn’t alone.
Yet, the right wing news extremists would have us pay more attention to the black on black crime, saying that’s far more problematic. Anything involving a death, a murder, is a problem. A youth being shot and killed by a police officer is no less worthy of attention and scrutiny than one black youth killing another. It’s actually very much worse, because the police are supposed to be above that.
By the end of last week, Ferguson Police were dressed better and more protected than many of the military personnel who were sent to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan. And then there’s the obvious racists who are supporting a fund to help the poor officer who shot and killed Brown. Let’s set the record straight. That “poor officer” committed a murder. A movie style gangland murder, no less.
And as that conversation continues, as that action still happens across the States, and as we Canadians watch through the walls of the glass house on the outside looking in, there was something else equally troubling.
If you aren’t familiar with Anita Sarkeesian, then you should be. She makes excellent comments on social situations faced in video games, movies and even television and books. Anita focuses on women and their treatment in video games, and has sometimes shifted the focus onto women of colour. She runs a blog and has a video series at Feminist Frequency, and currently has a mini series called Tropes versus Women in Video Games.
Sarkeesian has received a huge amount of hate from a large portion of the (male) video game audience. This hate has even gone to rape and death threats. Which only goes to prove Sarkeesian correct. Now, she’s been threatened so badly, that she’s had to retreat from the world and hide. Her address and the address of her family was posted in a very public place, with continued threats of rape, death, arson of her home and her family’s home, and other rather disturbing things.
It would be something if this was an isolated incident, but it’s not. Women who work in the video game industry face this kind of thing every day. Women began making huge strides in the industry, only to quit after facing a wall of threats and death from the male gamers. Many of these women are writers of games like Mass Effect or Bio Shock. They wrote games which aren’t some small time indie game. They were working the Triple A circuit.
Even the women journalists who report on gaming face it. Elizabeth Sampat wrote about this just yesterday in her Truth About Zoe Quinn article. Journalists and game devs and game writers and game artists who happen to be women face the largest portion of harassment in the industry. And yes, men do face some. Critics like Jim Sterling of the Escapist Magazine’s Jimquisition gets it all the time. But even he’s admitted to never receiving threats of death or rape. A lot of times women receive this not because they critiqued a game, but just because they happen to be women.
At one time, rape was considered the lowest of the low for a person to commit. That there was a special place in hell reserved for those who committed or thought about acts of rape or child molestation. But now, it seems like the go to defense for (male) gamers or anyone in the industry that is in the area of the “geek” whenever a women says something that rails against “what has come before”.
Sometimes I just feel like giving up, that anything that I’ve tried supporting that would make improvements for the world that we live in just isn’t worth it anymore. But I can’t (even in the minimal way that I do just by writing a column only from my point of view). If I did that, there might be someone out there who I might let down. Then it’s like a house of cards. We need each other in times like these. And there was a hundred other news stories that took place which I could focus on. And we need to. The slaughter in Palestine. The events in Syria. The horribly oppressive anti-gay legislation that many countries are pushing through their systems. Sometimes it’s hard, and sometimes you do feel like giving up because there is so much that’s happening in the world which is trying to throw things back into some repressive regime. Where rights and freedoms are permanently stripped from anyone who isn’t a member of the 1%, or even those who might be in the bracket underneath them.
We don’t have to do it all, we can pick our battles. We just have to ensure that we do so in an intelligent and meaningful way. We don’t have to be superheroes. Sometimes we just need to be willing to understand the situation and assist in any way that we can. And keep in mind that while you or someone you know may be fighting to raise awareness against one problem, there’s someone else fighting against another.
We can’t give up.