The founders of VidCon have come out in support of Anita Sarkeesian after she claimed a group of audience members had attended an event she was speaking at in order to intimidate her.
As the editor of Feminist Frequency, Anita Sarkeesian was one of the first women targeting by Gamergate.
Gamergate was essentially the targeted, sexist harassment of multiple women following calls for greater gender diversity and less sexism in gaming back in 2014.
During VidCon’s Women Online panel event Anita Sarkeesian was faced with one of her harassers – a YouTuber named Carl Benjamin – who was sat in the front row. When asked, “Why do we still have to talk about the harassment of women?” by the panel’s moderator, Anita decided to call Carl out, replying, “Because I think one of my biggest harassers is sitting in the front row.”
She continued: “If you Google my name on YouTube you get shitheads like this dude who are making these dumb-assed videos.”
“They just say the same shit over and over again. I hate to give you attention because you’re a garbage human. These dudes just making endless videos that go after every feminist over and over again is a part of the issue of why we have to have these conversations.”
The clash resulted in Anita receiving further harassment, after Carl shared a video complaining about Anita’s comments, which he claims violated VidCon policy of not allowing personal insults against attendees. Carl insisted that he and his allies had only been at the event to debate her. However fellow YouTuber David Cullen revealed in a YouTube upload that they were there for the purpose of “trolling”
“We carefully organized this so that on one side of the audience we would all make up the top three rows,” he says.
He continues: “We had a blast with this. It was such an adrenaline high to be there in the situation, to shit-post, in this trolling kind of way,” before adding that there was “no malice” intended.
BUT TROLLING IS MALICIOUS, DAVID.
VidCon have since come out in support of Anita Sarkeesian.
On Tuesday, they released a statement saying: “It is openly known that women on the internet are subject to far greater amounts (and intensity) of harassment and abuse than men.”
“This is a pattern and it’s pervasive. Running this event, we have to be aware when a creator has potentially dangerous harassers or stalkers, and our list for our female creators is a whole lot longer than the list for male creators.”
Referring directly to the incident, the statement reads:
“This year, we had a contingent of attendees (some who paid, some who snuck in with fake passes) who had been either perpetrators of this harassment, or had, for years, watched as the outrage they cultivated resulted in followers doxxing, harassing, intimidating, and even threatening the lives of the creators on these panels.
It is difficult to imagine that this group of people (who are aware that their channels have been base-camps for years of harassment of some of our panelists) did not realize that their arriving early to fill up the three front rows of a panel was going to be intimidating. In any case, it looked like intentional intimidation to most people in attendance, and the panelists were understandably on edge throughout the discussion.
During the panel, a panelist called out one of the audience members for being someone who has made her life very difficult, and wished she didn’t have to give him attention because he was a “garbage human.” Look, we don’t want our panelists to insult our audience members, even when we completely understand that the comment exists in a much broader (and pretty messed up) context. Even when people have said hateful things that everyone in our office disagrees with, we have a policy, and it exists not just to protect people at the show, but to protect our ability to have these conversations.
Our founder, Hank Green, talked with our panelist and said two things:
- He told her that her comment had violated our policy, but that he understood that there was a broader context (which to be clear, we were blissfully ignorant of until this weekend, and remain inexpert in.)
- He apologized to her for not having been more aware of and active in understanding the situation before the event, which resulted in her being subjected to a hostile environment that she had not signed up for.
We agreed that she would go forward and continue on as a panelist on a later panel.”
Meanwhile, Carl has complained that VidCon are yet to apologise to him.
Anita has since said that she has “no regrets” about calling Carl out at the event.
She sad: “This is a man who has spent years driving harassment toward me and other women online. Under the circumstances, considering his pattern of behavior and everything he’s put me and others through, I’d say ‘garbage human’ was one of the kinder things I could have called him.”