Feminist media critic Anita Sarkeesian spoke to CNN International on Thursday regarding her encounter with an online mob of hateful gamers.
“A lot of time when women talk about online harassment they’re told, ‘Well, it can’t be that bad,’ or, ‘You’re just exaggerating,’ or, ‘You need to grow thicker skin,’” she said. “And what I wanted to do or what I hoped to do by telling my story is to create a space were people take online harassment more seriously, so the next woman who talks about herself being attacked by this kind of cyber mob, this kind of large scale harassment campaign — or even smaller levels of harassment — that she’ll be taken serious.”
Sarkeesian became the target of an online smear and intimidation campaign after launching a fundraiser for her video project. She had asked for money to publish a series of videos examining the depiction of women in video games. Her plan was apparently enough to make her hated by some gamers.
A game that involved beating up Sarkeesian was published online in 2012. Others created fake pornographic images of Sarkeesian, published her address and phone number, threatened to kill or rape her, and tried to hack into her website Feminist Frequency.
Sarkeesian acknowledged “don’t feed the trolls” was a good attitude, but added there was a misconception that she merely faced some “trolls.”
“Trolling is largely thought of as one individual who is trying to get a rise out of another individual,” she explained. “What happened to me was really a cyber mob. It was thousands of individuals coming after me who were loosely working together. So that’s not just trying to get a rise out of someone. That is a very strategic attempt to silence and discredit an individual.”
The campaign against Sarkeesian backfired. She had hoped to raise about $6,000, but ended up receiving more than $150,000. Her first video in the “Tropes vs Women in Video Games” series was published in March.
Watch video, uploaded to YouTube by CNN, below: