Last month I was invited to speak at the XOXO conference & festival in Portland. I used the opportunity to talk about two forms of harassment that are commonly used to try and silence and discredit women but are not as easily identifiable as misogynist harassment: conspiracy theories and impersonation. (Note: trigger warning early on for examples of rape and death threats)
I am aware that there are some people who do not seem to like me or my blog very much. You might know that I’ve had to deal with overt threats and some pretty nasty business with being harassed online in the last year or so. While that’s bad enough, please don’t send me links to online content that involves long and drawn out conspiracy theories about me.
If you need to understand the “what” and “why” of things like that, if you see them, just watch this video from about 9:00 on. If this looks familiar:
^ That’s because it’s the same old song and dance that happens when any woman, but especially a woman of color, engages in cultural criticism.
I am aware that there obsessive and disturbing bits of flotsam floating around how I am 1. lying about my racial identity; 2. fooling, manipulating or brainwashing people; 3. doing it all for that sweet, sweet blogging cash.
It might as well be a bingo card at this point.
If you don’t have the wherewithal to watch the video, here are two highlights:
"For these detractors, it’s easier to believe that I am a skin-bleaching, mind-controlling, video game-hating scam artist involved in a masterful long con, than it is to believe that the tide is turning in gaming, and that larger numbers of developers and fans are challenging the sexist status quo and embracing the ideas expressed in my work and the work of many other women doing the same work in cultural criticism.”
"What I’ve described to you today is not unique to me and my experience. Every day, many women voicing their opinions online deal with a similar flood of slander and defamation designed to undermine their careers, their credibility, their resolve, and their confidence.”
^^ No one is interested in doing anything about online harassment. Everything from the recent ————- debacle, to attacks on professionals like Anita Sarkeesian and/or women of color struggling to survive academia take pretty much the same exact form. And if you can’t keep in mind that people can literally say anything they want to about anyone for no reason with no consequences, then I guess I don’t know what to tell you.
Also relevant is the portion where she discusses how certain targeted misinformation is repeated over and over across social media platforms as accepted facts, and then more layers are piled on until you end up with a monstrous thing straight out of the sketchier tabloids.
In the words of Amanda Hess:
But making quick and sick threats has become so easy that many say the abuse has proliferated to the point of meaninglessness, and that expressing alarm is foolish.
So women who are harassed online are expected to either get over ourselves or feel flattered in response to the threats made against us. We have the choice to keep quiet or respond “gleefully.”
So I will leave you all with this screencap of the FAQ:
Don’t, however, send me links to 10k-word count manifestos about how I am a secret Nazi medical experimenter. Thank you for reading, and have a nice day.
I’ve gone numb to the harassment. I block, mute, whatever & keep it moving. No one needs to tell any of us that people hate us for existing. We already know.