Feminist video game critic forced to leave her home after online rape and death threats
Anita Sarkeesian, creator of an online video series analyzing problematic representations of women in video games, was forced to leave her home on Tuesday after death threats made online against herself and her family, Polygon reported.
“Some very scary threats have just been made against me and my family,” Sarkeesian posted on Tuesday. “Contacting authorities now.”
After confirming she had found a safe place to stay, Sarkeesian posted a screengrab of the threats, posted by a Twitter account calling itself “Kevin Dobson,” which identified her address and her parents, as well as several vulgar threats, including one to “ram a hot tire iron up [her] c*nt”:
“I usually don’t share the really scary stuff,” Sarkeesian wrote on a post accompanying the image. “But it’s important for folks to know how bad it gets.”
Sarkeesian reported the threats a day after she released a new episode of her series, Feminist Frequency, dealing with games that feature sexualized female victims or female characters introduced solely to highlight either a villain’s aggression or provide motivation for players to complete their missions.
The effect of introducing these “mature themes,” she argues in the episode, is the trivialization of painful experiences that are all too common. Sarkeesian alludes to a 2011 study by the Centers for Disease Control that found nearly one in five U.S. women reported having suffered either a rape or an attempted rape, while one in four reported having been beaten by a domestic partner.
“When games casually use sexualized violence as a ham-fisted form of character development for the bad guys, it reinforces a popular misconception about gendered violence by framing it as something abnormal, as a cruelty committed only by the most transparently evil strangers,” she says in the video. “In reality, however, violence against women — and sexual violence, in particular — is a common everyday occurence, often perpetrated by ‘normal men,’ known and trusted by those targeted.”
Sarkeesian was also the target of an intimidation campaign last year, with opponents of her work posting fake pornographic images of her online, falsely “flagging” her videos on YouTube, and threatening her personal safety.
Watch Sarkeesian’s latest commentary, as posted on Monday, below.