In a dream world, this article doesn’t exist. Anita Sarkeesian is common knowledge to every person on the planet and, most importantly, some of the horrific things you’re about to learn didn’t happen.
For those who do not know, Anita Sarkeesian is one of the most prominent voices on the frontline defending feminism* through her pinpoint video commentary analysing the portrayal of women in popular culture.
*Lets get the correct meaning of feminism out of the way here: Feminism is the advocacy of equal rights for everyone. Not one gender over another, or one gender to be lesser off. No. It literally means equality.
As well as founding the award-winning website Feminist Frequency, Anita heads the now iconic video series ‘Tropes vs Women’ which is praised incredibly highly based on her deeply intellectual and matter of fact way of pointing out the problematic patterns of popular culture.
Below is one example of her Trope debates in which she demonstrates the troublesome representation of women as pure rewards in video games.
This series, Kickstarted in 2012 for a ground-breaking $160k (beyond the original aim of $6k), looks at numerous ways in which video games misrepresent women in their narratives. Other videos in the series look at women as background decoration as well as the troublesome stereotype of women as ‘damsels in distress’. These have been put at the bottom of the article for your viewing pleasure!
However, the media spotlight that drew positive attention to this fundraising campaign brought with it a fair amount of trolls. In fact, it’s possible to assume that very few other people on the Internet have ever been attacked the way Anita has.
Anita Sarkeesian was placed at the centre of a heated debate regarding misogyny in video game culture as well as the terrifying world of online harassment. Based on her vocal criticisms of video games and popular culture, the following things began to happen to Anita:
- Rape and death threats on a daily basis
- Webpages and social media sites were hacked
- Personal information was distributed causing Anita to flee from her home
- Her entry on Wikipedia was vandalised with racial slurs and sexual images
- Anita was actually sent graphic images of herself being raped by video game characters
- Representations of Anita became involved with the #GamerGate controversy
- A game entitled ‘Beat Up Anita Sarkeesian’ was created in which players could attack and kill a picture of her
- Anonymous bombs threats were made at almost every venue in which she announced a public talk
- And her harassment case was passed onto the FBI for investigation
So what has she done to combat these trolls? Well, it came out last week that Anita has teamed up with Jaclyn Friedman and Renee Bracey Sherman to pool together their collective experience regarding online harassment to create a guide on how to protect yourself. You can find Speak Up & Stay Safe(r): A Guide to Protecting Yourself From Online Harassment by clicking the image below!
The guide provides free tips on how to protect yourself from online harassment including ways to secure your personal information on social media platforms and how to document any harassment you receive.
Anita, regarding the creation of the Guide, had this to say; ‘We wish we didn’t have to write this. None of this is fair. It should not be our meticulous labour and precious funds that keep us safe, it should be our basic humanity’.
Below we’ve given you more videos from Anita’s Tropes vs Women series, the rest of which can be found either on YouTube or on the Feminist Frequency website. We hope you watch more of her work and read further afield about the troubles people across the world face based on their gender or rights to speak freely on topics they’re passionate about. We will continue to discuss Anita and her culture defining work on the site, so we would love to hear your thoughts on her struggles and what it means overall.