There’s a lot I can definitely say about Brianna Wu’s talk, but I want to find a single focused topic to discuss. Finally, while going over her Twitter feed earlier this afternoon and wondering at the vicious reactions to her comparably mild criticisms of patriarchy, Gamergate and systemic sexism, it struck me. I want to talk about the demonization of feminism.
This is something we see again and again in various social justice movements – a fierce backlash from those in power (from those with privilege) against someone trying to gain equal rights. Regardless of how docile or hostile the activist is, the (over)reaction has the same level of vitriol. In fact, that vitriol is even higher when responding to women trying to assert their rights, either in feminism or as an intersectional part of another justice movement.
Brianna Wu, as I saw when she spoke, and as I knew from the articles, posts and tweets of hers that I had read beforehand, is a passionate critic of the system, but not an offensive or disrespectful one. Yet, any critique by her invariably receives more hostile responses than a similar (or more aggressive one) by a man does.
This is, I think, best exemplified in the reactions last fall to roughly simultaneous posts by former NFL player Chris Kluwe and actress and geek icon Felicia Day. Kluwe wrote an incendiary article entitled “Why #Gamergaters Piss Me the F*** Off,” the blistering content of which would probably drive my grandmother blind. Meanwhile, Felicia Day’s blog post was a relation of her personal experiences and fears, without the use of a single curse word.
Guess who got doxxed? Guess who got harassed, threatened, attacked?
And for the record, none of you fucking #Gamergate tools tried to dox me, even after I tore you a new one. I’m not even a tough target.
— Chris Kluwe (@ChrisWarcraft) October 23, 2014
Not the guy.
Feminism isn’t a dirty word, and it isn’t a bad thing. The overblown reactions to it from white men, from the “slopebrowed weaseldicks with zero reading comprehension and even less critical thinking skills” as Chris Kluwe might say, do make sense. They are the reactions of a people in privilege and power about to lose that privilege and power.
But even in these reactions, in these anti-feminist, anti-sjw, anti-equality attacks, the sexism thrives. It targets those speaking up for themselves, and tries to beat them back into voicelessness. The men standing for equality are just misguided, but the women?They’re something else, according to the “blithering collection of wannabe Wikipedia philosophers, drunk on [their] own buzzwords, incapable of forming an original thought” (Kluwe, again).
What the gamergaters don’t realize is that the harder they hit, and the more unequal their attacks, the worse they look. The more obvious their sexist hypocrisy becomes. So if they keep on hitting, eventually, they’ll bring themselves down.
If you really want to insist you aren’t misogynist, or to insist that you’re focusing purely on ethics in gaming journalism, then #gamergate is not the place for you to be. You should pick a new hashtag.