Hi Digital Diary Followers
Anita Sarkeesian describes herself as “a popular culture critic, feminist, and woman” and is most famously know for her YouTube series Feminist Frequency.
Taking a personal interest in the oppressive portrayals of women in video games Sarkeensian launched a crowd funded campaign on Kickstarter to make a web series which looked to deconstruct the representation of women in gaming culture. However the entrepreneur soon became a target for a massive online hate campaign much of hate being targeted toward her gender. Her social sites were inundated with threats of rape, violence, sexual assault and death. Pornographic images of her were created and there was even an online simulated game which portrayed Anita being beaten. (Sarkeesian, 2012)
Users were working together, coordinating and communicating their raids, bringing them back to message boards as evidence to “show off to each other” (Sarkeesian, 2012). It depicts that the collaborative, participatory experience can sometimes be host to vicious crimes of anonymous hate.
The Internet boasts of the idea that there is a “zero cost” when it comes to production and distribution of content (Mitew, 2013) however with situations like Anita’s it is evident that Internet usage can come at a considerable personal and social cost, especially if you are a woman. Ultimately, for Anita, the situation worked in her favour – her Kickstarter rose twenty five times what she initially asked with 7000 individuals contributing to her cause (Sarkeesian, 2012). She was also inundated with public encouragement in the form of videos, fan art, comics and blog posts and now she dedicates her time using her personal story to give talks on online harassment faced by women in the game space and on the Internet (Sarkeesian, 2012).
However there are individuals who haven’t been as successful as Sarkeesian. TV host Charlotte Dawson is a recent example. Dawson attempted to end her life and was consequently hospitalised after receiving vicious abuse from Twitter Trolls.
These cases can be seen as examples to question the extent of freedom that should be allowed over the Internet, especially if people use it as a way to facilitate unnecessary, misogynist hate speech. Zack Whittaker describes that online there is a severe lack of regulation and moderation at the best of times and although we do have the right to express freedom of speech we should be nice about it.