Editor’s Note: A few weeks ago our message board and general inbox were bombarded with demands we address something called the “GamerGate Scandal”, posts written with the urgency and rage one would associate with, say, discovering that Chipotle burritos are made entirely from the meat of human babies. It’s apparently a big deal in some circles, so we followed the links and read the piles of data presented, and had to stop and take a deep breath just to grasp it all. “Gentlemen,” we said amid the stunned silence, “do you realize that if what they’re saying is true, then this is still the most pointless fucking bullshit anyone has ever forced us to read?”
The “scandal” turned out to be an excuse for an Internet harassment campaign against a random indie game developer who, like many such targets, was a female and a feminist.
It was all sparked by a single forum post from a jilted ex-boyfriend, but the ensuing outrage was so fierce and relentless that the story made it all the way to The New Yorker. This kind of spontaneous shitstorm is depressingly common these days, so we reached out to Zoe Quinn to see what it’s like to be the Internet’s Most Hated Person (well, for a couple of weeks, anyway). Here’s what she told us.
“I taught myself how to draw, and I soon found out it was what I really wanted to do. I didn’t think I was going to create any great masterpieces like Rembrandt or Gauguin. I thought comics was a common form of art, and strictly American in my estimation, because America was the home of the common man — and show me the common man that can’t do a comic. So comics is an American form of art that anyone can do with a pencil and paper.”—
“This dominant narrative surrounding the inevitability of female objectification and victimhood is so powerful that it not only defines our concepts of reality but it even sets the parameters for how we think about entirely fictional worlds, even those taking place in the realms of fantasy and science fiction. It’s so normalized that when these elements are critiqued, the knee-jerk response I hear most often is that if these stories did not include the exploitation of women, then the game worlds would feel too “unrealistic” or “not historically accurate”. What does it say about our culture when games routinely bend or break the laws of physics and no one bats an eye? When dragons, ogres and magic are inserted into historically influenced settings without objection. We are perfectly willing to suspend our disbelief when it comes to multiple lives, superpowers, health regeneration and the ability to carry dozens of weapons and items in a massive invisible backpack. But somehow the idea of a world without sexual violence and exploitation is deemed too strange and too bizarre to be believable.”—Tropes vs Women in Video Games, Women as Background Decoration: Part 2 (via femfreq)
Your explanation of the X-men metaphor in the Silver Age on the Rachel & Miles podcast seems really applicable to the role of men in the nerd community should be playing these days with regard to sexism and harassment of women.
As long as they don’t call themselves the Not-All Men.
““White knighting” is a pejorative term bigots use to undermine such actions from men who are using their voices for support, not for condemnation and misogyny. Bigots use it to claim men are supporting women in the hopes of sleeping with women. Because, apparently, that’s the only reason you would ever want to treat someone as a person.”—Fanboys, White Knights, and the Hairball of Online Misogyny - The Daily Beast (via wilwheaton)
Two points regarding this nonsense terminology from MRA assnerds:
I call my son “Field Trippe” on the internet, but that isn’t his name. His name is Emmett. I gave him that name for a lot of reasons. It means “universal” in its English origins and sounds like the Hebrew word for “truth.” It reminds me of Emmett “Doc” Brown from the Back to the Future movies, which I loved so much when I was a kid. I didn’t know about the Twilight character, but what are you gonna do?
I knew about Emmett Till.
Not to make it sound too magical, because it wasn’t always, but growing up in a rather multicultural part of the South taught me so much. Against a backdrop of Confederate flags and old whites begrudgingly turning to the Republican party as the formerly segregationist Democrats had embraced diversity, my young friends and I saw each other as people first, our different heritages and experiences ADDING to our friendships, rather than subtracting from our opinions of each other. I started DRAWING because in third grade, one of my black friends, Cedric, showed me how to draw Ninja Turtles. That’s why I have this job. Without that afternoon, and the months of trying to impress each other, I have no idea what I’d be doing right now.
So far, my son and I have had two discussions about race. When he was almost four, I asked him if he’d noticed that people sometimes have different hair colors or skin colors, and he said he had. I asked, “It’s cool, right?” And he said yeah. That was it! (He and I both think the other’s hair color is the best one, btw.) Then, when the Supreme Court recently ruled that the Constitution prevented the denial of marriage to those wishing to marry same-sex partners, I asked if he’d heard about gay people. He said he hadn’t and asked what “gay” meant. I explained that while most boys like girls and most girls like boys, romantically (meaning they might want to get married and hug and kiss a lot), a very small number of people are born liking the same gender, and that now they could get married (I know the ruling isn’t universal, I’m talking to a five year old), and that the news made me happy. Then I told him that it used to be against the law for people with darker skin to get married to people with lighter skin. “Isn’t that silly?” I asked him. He made a weird face and said, “YEAH.” Like it was the dumbest thing he’d ever heard. I CAN RELATE.
But I know that one day, my son will learn about a boy with his same name, who was horrifically tortured and killed just for the color of his skin. I’ll probably be the one to tell him. Because, LIKE A LOT OF IMPORTANT THINGS, it sure as hell wasn’t in the textbooks I grew up reading.
I’ve seen the picture of Trayvon Martin’s dead body. It’s heartbreaking and infuriating, but the thing that gets me the most is that I cannot fathom how his hoodie, skinny pants, backpack, and kicks gave someone the impression HOODLUM. Or CRIMINAL. Or THREAT. Except that his murderer saw only his skin color, and had his own diseased idea about what it meant. Knowing the details of the encounter, I can’t for the life of me think of anything Trayvon could have done to escape from George Zimmerman with his life.
I tried to encode the lessons I most want my son to know into his name, in case anything happens to me. “Universal Truth” right there in his first name, so he’ll know to care about what can be proven, known, and used to help everyone. His middle name means “like God” in Hebrew, “friend” in Arabic,” and shares a couple of syllables of my first name (Dean’s my middle name, btw). I didn’t name him after Doc Brown, but my son sharing a name with a famous fictional scientist makes me happy.
And when he learns about Emmett Till, and the history of our country, I want him to feel the weight of how different his life would be if he had to walk around with secret — and holy-shit-not-so-secret — racists eyeballing him and looking for an excuse.
Trayvon Martin’s murder has haunted me, as though my completely imagined position as a preacher for superheroes and their basic gospel, “Use all of your abilities to help everyone you can,” requires me to make sense of this, if not for anyone else, at least for myself. But fear and the maddeningly incomprehensible lack of basic empathy continue to create villains, and we continue to arm them against us. That is not sense. It is nonsense.
I feel like a complete idiot for being surprised by this verdict. I guess I might have seen it coming when the police didn’t even want to arrest a guy who shot a kid. But I’ll never forget today. We still live in a country Emmett Till couldn’t have survived.
What the hell is wrong with us?
I’ve been thinking about this post a lot since #Ferguson.
Laying my sword down for a second. You’re safe here. I’m not going to hack you to pieces. For the moment, at least. (See? That’s a joke. I’m normal just like you. I make jokes too.) But I warn you, this is probably not something you want to hear. Don’t…
I will say, because of the nature of internet backlash, there are a lot of skeevy dudes and legit offenders whose actions are known to women—who are sharing this vital intel privately to protect others—but not to dudes, in part because it’s hard to know who isn’t yet another secret villain, and because dudes may not share the same understanding of the need to protect the sources of this information.
I really don’t know what the solution is, but I desperately want to know who to avoid personally and professionally and who to warn convention organizers about.
But speaking as a dude in comics world who wants it to be as welcoming to every non-white male group as it was to me, a boy who desperately needed a superhero to rescue him, I am happy to shine the signal for this incredibly important issue. We HAVE to figure out how to protect our fellow creators and fans.
Lois Lane will be getting the YA novel treatment come January from author Gwenda Bond. The book, titled Fallout, is from Capstone/Switch will focus on young Lois Lane just starting out in Metropolis. The 304 page book will be released in January (Update: the writer says May). Will Superman appear? Check out the blurb below to see.