Tag Archives: transphobia

So much ethics: An anti-GamerGate rant @Veeren_Jubbal @INeedDivGms @ChrisWarcraft

Today, CypherofTyr, who started the #INeedDiverseGames tag on Twitter and eventual blogs and groups on various social media and gaming sites, posted this to Tumblr:

Please keep Veerender Jubbal in your thoughts. He’s been targeted by GG yet again but this could get him killed. A bathroom selfie was photoshopped to make it look like he was holding a Quran, wearing a bomb lined vest and for some odd reason, a dildo was added. An Italian news outlet has run the story as true sadly, but Buzzfeed (for once was useful) and called out the obvious photoshop.

It looks like a piss poor photoshop, and it’s a photo where he’s staring straight ahead which someone else couldn’t have taken. However news outlets are running this photo, and that piece of shit Milo Y of Brietbart/GG infamy is trying to harass him further by asking for an exclusive for Brietbart.

Veerender is a very young, sweet guy who’s only asking for equality in games and more representation of Sikh’s and brown men like him. For this, for his rightful anger he’s been targeted yet again. The incorrect party line of “he’s a Muslim terrorist” isn’t new but with the strong anti-Muslim vibe going on because of Paris right now, I am really, really worried for his safety. Not tagging him so I don’t bring hate to his FB.

If you follow him on twitter, please send some words of support, cute animal pics or something. I am very, very worried someone will believe that image is real and go after him.

http://www.buzzfeed.com/ellievhall/gamergate-photoshopped-a-canadian-sikh-man-to-make-him-seem#.iwWMapMo5

They did this this weekend, AFTER Friday’s terrorist attacks in Paris, for which ISIS has claimed responsibility. They did this in a time when anti-Islam sentiment is boiling over and Muslims all over the world are in danger of hate crimes.

It won’t matter that this innocent man is a Sikh. Many Sikhs have been subjected to hate crimes, especially since 9/11, because most people are too ignorant to realize that they’re not Muslims.

This is especially troubling because GamerGaters have been known to attempt murder-by-cop, in the form of something called swatting. Swatting is something that is done to a person who has been doxxed. The harasser makes some form of anonymous report to emergency services that something urgently bad is happening at a person’s address. Like, they’re holding a hostage or they’re waving a gun or whatever. This is done in the hopes that police will show up and bust down the target’s door with guns blazing.

Not that they’ll admit that is the goal, they claim it’s just harassment. But who living in the post-Ferguson world believes that it isn’t actually attempted murder? Especially since the targets of several notable incidences have been black or trans people (such as in this incident last year in Portland) both of whom have every reason to be afraid of being murdered by police.

(Ironically, a few months ago I started writing the sequel to Player vs. Player, called Swatted. My protag is of Middle Eastern descent. Guess what happens.)

For over a year now, I’ve been posting occasionally about GamerGate. GamerGate became a thing last August, just as I was finishing up edits to Player vs. Player (a book which was inspired by harassment of Jennifer Hepler, a writer who used to work on the Dragon Age franchise at BioWare) and Anita Sarkeesian, a media critic who runs a site called Feminist Frequency and does a Feminism 101-level critique of the portrayal of women in video games.

I’ve posted before about how I wrote Player vs. Player a year too early, because it wasn’t, in fact, informed by GamerGate. It just happened to be timely.

GamerGate claims to be about ethics in gaming journalism–which they basically define as preventing any gaming news outlets from posting any articles that might suggest in any way that women and minorities should receive better representation in video games. But here’s the truth about how it actually started.

TL;DR version: posts speculating about Zoe Quinn’s sex life kept getting deleted from legitimate gaming boards, and harassment posts kept getting deleted from other places. So the harassers decided they needed to try another tactic. Here are some of the posts leading up to these harassers deciding they were actually about “ethics in gaming journalism.”

(Extreme TW: Misogyny, misogynist slurs, homophobic slurs, harassment, bullying)

GG Zoe Quinn 01GG Zoe Quinn 02GG Zoe Quinn 03GG Zoe Quinn 04GG Zoe Quinn 05GG Zoe Quinn 06GG Zoe Quinn 07

So it’s completely well-documented that the “ethics in gaming journalism” was a deliberate ploy on the part of these guys to put a veneer of legitimacy on their campaign of harassment of women. The #GamerGate tag was invented, coined by Adam Baldwin, and began spreading all over Twitter.

In the aftermath, the harassment spread to Anita Sarkeesian, who was already misogynist gamers pin-up girl, and to a woman named Leigh Alexander, who posted an article in which she asserted “gamers” are over. You can read the post and see for yourself what her meaning was, but misogynist gamer dudebros didn’t look beyond the title, which they decided was an attack upon them and their identity, and they attacked back.

Then a game developer named Brianna Wu created a few memes mocking GamerGate. For that, she was driven from her home by death and rape threats. (TW: death threats, rape threats, extreme misogyny.)

In the process of crusading for “ethics in gaming journalism”, there has been a flurry of awful behavior. #GamerGate co-opted antisemitic propaganda images to smear Anita Sarkeesian. (TW: antisemitism)

(that’s a caricature of Anita Sarkessian)

(Source: Weev: Gamergate is “the biggest siren bringing people into the folds of white nationalism.”

They equated gamergaters to the #BlackLivesMatter protesters in Ferguson, and equated male gamers to black Americans in the Jim Crow era:

The GamerGate photoshop

The original image

Source: Things #GamerGaters Actually Believe, Part 294: Gamers are as oppressed as African Americans in the Jim Crow era

They created the #NotYourShield tag, which was supposed to prove they weren’t all white males, and then created sockpuppets posing as minorities to boost its population. Internet blackface.

(White nationalists are also claiming GamerGate is boosting their numbers. GamerGaters also frequently reference a trumped-up concept named Cultural Marxism, which is pretty much the next generation of the Nazi buzz phrase Cultural Bolshevism.)

A man named Davis Aurini, who outright confesses to being a white nationalist “on paper” partnered with another GamerGater to make a documentary called “The Sarkeesian Effect” and sought $15,000 per month for their trouble.

(This while accusing Anita Sarkeesian and Zoe Quinn and Brianna Wu of being “professional victims” capitalizing upon their harassment for sympathy and money. The irony astounds.)

They have committed ACTUAL acts of terrorism. In October 2014 Anita Sarkeesian had to cancel an appearance at Utah State University because someone threatened a campus massacre if she appeared (in the process referencing the actual 1989 massacre of several women on a campus in Montreal.)

This is on top of what Sarkeesian deals with on a daily basis.

When Felicia Day, popular actress and geek culture darling, timidly spoke up condemning GamerGate, they doxxed her. (Doxxing, for those who aren’t aware, is the publishing of a person’s personal and financial information–such as address, phone number, employer, family addresses, social security number, etc, for the purpose of harassment.)

Former NFL player and LGBTQIA+ rights activist Chris Kluwe, who had a couple days later posted an absolutely EPIC rant about #GamerGate, was also eventually doxxed. It is pathetic to note, however, that while Felicia Day was doxxed less than an hour after her post, it took them months to dox Kluwe. #GamerGate targets women much more aggressively than it does men.

They even spoke of trying to dox Brianna Wu’s veterinarian in the middle of the night as Brianna Wu waited at the vets with her dying dog. And then, of course, rejoiced and celebrated and harassed Brianna about her loss.

Last year, a Canadian teenager was arrested for swatting female gamers all over North America.

That’s not even close to the end of it.

The Venn diagram of GamerGaters and so-called Men’s Rights Activists isn’t quite a perfect circle, but I’d call it a short oval, at least. Paul Elam, leader of the MRA website A Voice For Men, initially voiced his support for GamerGate, but later seemed to walk to back. GamerGate is also supported by Roosh V, notorious pickup-artist who advocates for the legalization of rape (extreme TW: misogyny and rape apologia) and even confesses to committing rape (TW: rape descriptions).

The person who threatened the massacre if Anita Sarkeesian appeared at Utah State University referenced both GamerGate and repeated a lot of MRA rhetoric.

GamerGate also has a tremendous amount of overlap with neo-Nazi ideology. This really isn’t surprising. All three groups exist for the purpose of upholding white male supremacy, and they echo a lot of the same rhetoric.

For instance, ranting against the concept of so-called Cultural Marxism. The only difference between the three groups is MRAs blame feminists for it, white supremacists blame non-white people for it (as well as feminists), and GamerGaters blame “SJWs” (social justice warriors) for it.

It should be noted that “SJW” is pretty much the “all of the above” option, seeing as how it encompasses any oppressed group advocating for equality, including the groups that MRAs and white supremacists hate.

Here’s where it gets scary though:

Murder in the name of white supremacy is pretty much so universal that I’d be here for weeks listing them. Anders Behring Breivik springs to mind as one, but honestly it happens nearly every day in the US, frequently in the form of law enforcement killing black Americans.

MRAs has a history of celebrating men who murder women in the name of anti-feminism. They have stated Elliot Rodger would have been a hero if he’d just killed women and no men. They have blamed feminists for Rodger’s actions, because Rodger was an “incel” (involuntarily celibate) and because feminists engage in “creep shaming.”

Andreas Lubitz, the co-pilot accused of crashing Germanwings Flight 9525, was called an incel hero and his actions an indication of the “beta uprising.” Vox Day, fantasy author and all-around horrible excuse for a human being, opines that Lubitz wouldn’t have crashed the plane if women and just jumped on his dick. MRAs also celebrated the recent massacre at Umpqua Community College.

PUA RooshV is so convinced that one day his followers will commit a massacre that he’s already formulating his response to it.

GamerGaters are already trying to commit murder obliquely with tactics such as swatting, and “raids” on sites such as Tumblr to attempt to harass depressed trans people into committing suicide.

How much longer before they go for the direct approach? Will someone have to actually die before these guys stop being handwaved off as just trolls?

They’ve just spread images of a Sikh man photoshopped to make him look like a terrorist. In the aftermath of a terrorist attack when the entire world is on a hair trigger. How can this be anything but attempted murder?

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Leftist ableism, misinformation, #GamerGate, and the deliberately constructed decline of critical thought

If you followed me on Tumblr you know that a pet peeve of mine lately has been progressives using ableist language when making their points. You would also know that several times recently, I’ve had to deliberately counter leftist misinformation that makes its way across my dash.

And if you have read Player vs. Player or even skimmed the book jacket, you can probably guess that the GamerGate debacle is something I take very seriously, though that book was finalized before #GamerGate became a thing.

Would it surprise you to know that #GamerGate is a movement comprised of a significant number of left-leaning and leftist libertarian people?

Seen in that light, it makes a certain amount of sense that a great deal of #GamerGate’s rhetoric (even when they’re not maliciously harassing people) defaults to the use of ableist language.

I admit, the last election cycle, I was not aware of the left’s frequent reliance on ableist language. In the years since, I’ve had my eyes opened to a lot of things I hadn’t seen before, and perhaps that’s resulted in a sort of hypersensitivity to it. Mostly, it’s that I find myself time and again having to choose NOT to share articles, opinion pieces, and memes that otherwise make very valid points because of the use of ableist language. Progressives have no problem dismissing right-winger’s as “idiots” and call right-wing ideas “crazy,” “insane,” “lame,” and “stupid.” For a group of people who pride themselves on their open-minded ideas, the left has been extremely reluctant to stop using this language.

Now, of course, we see that a significant chunk of leftist #GamerGaters call themselves libertarians, which is a whole other kettle of fish from actually being progressive. Libertarians are, on the whole, people who like to pat themselves on the back for being tolerant enough not to care about things other people do that don’t personally affect them–such as having abortions or marrying someone of the same sex–but don’t see any reason why they should give up their racism, sexism, classism, transphobia and ableism. They’re conservatives who are minimally self-aware enough to want to avoid the shame of being blatant bigots, but they don’t actually want anything to change, so attempt to slip their bigotry in under the radar with a self-congratulatory veneer of open-mindedness. So there’s that.

When confronted by someone who points out this disconnect, the illusion evaporates and they quickly default to blatant racism, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, and ableism, however. Which is #GamerGate in a nutshell. It’s a bunch of misogynists railing against the notion of change (specifically in the gaming industry and geek culture) while claiming they’re left-leaning because they generously permit women to have abortions. Meanwhile they spew a bunch of sexist vitriol, death threats, rape threats, sexual harassment, gendered slurs, and even deliberately organized campaigns to try to trigger dysphoria in at-risk trans people in an attempt to induce them to commit suicide.

Thus it would be really easy to dismiss them under the “no true Scotsman” fallacy, and give the rest of the left a pass on their more discreet forms of ableism. #GamerGate thinks nothing of using the r-word against people they disagree with–which for the rest of the left is just Going Too Far (though it wouldn’t be if, of all people, Sarah Palin hadn’t pointed it out very publicly–while unironically using the term “lamestream media.”) The r-word is basically a slur so offensive that the rest of the left won’t touch it. Instead, they default to more socially acceptable variations on the theme like “idiotic” and “insane.”

But here’s the thing. The right is neither idiotic nor insane. What they are is a group of people who are lacking in critical thinking skills.

That’s not a congenital deficit (unless it actually is, when taking into consideration people who are severely learning or developmentally disabled.) Critical thinking skills are something that are learned in the course of a well-rounded education, and thus can be acquired by anyone (except for those who literally lack the faculties to acquire them due to the aforementioned disabilities.)

And what we’ve seen for decades from the right–and this includes libertarians whose conceit is that they are “fiscally conservative but socially liberal”–is a concerted effort to deny people a well-rounded education.

They make a college education too expensive to afford without incurring enormous amounts of debt and then refuse to lower the interest rate on that debt.

They cut funding for educational programming on PBS, which poor families often rely on because they can’t afford cable. They cut funding for Head Start programs. They cut school budgets so that there are fewer teachers per student, and cut lunch and welfare programs that enable students to learn better because they’re not going hungry.

They construct curricula that neglect accurate and truthful education on the subjects of history and social studies and science. They are outright antipathetic to arts programs, despite the fact that scientific studies have repeatedly proven that children who receive arts education do better in most or all “core” subjects, particularly math, which then impacts the ability to learn science.

They continually, in ways both implicit and explicit, deride being educated or anything that smacks of “intellectualism,” dismissing it as being elitist.

It has repeatedly been demonstrated that educated people overwhelmingly tend to vote left. This is because educated people are people with sound critical thinking skills. They can look at the problems facing society, deconstruct what has created those problems, and promote rational, logical solutions that are backed by sound science. People without critical thinking skills tend to vote based upon emotion, scare tactics, and buzzwords, things that the right is very good at and relies on hugely in the absence of genuine solutions to our problems.

(Golly, that sure makes it look like the right’s attempts to prevent people receiving an education look like a well-choreographed, decades-long campaign to create a populace largely incapable of critical thought, doesn’t it?)

Which is why you get people outraged about Planned Parenthood is “selling baby parts” (which doesn’t happen) and then railing about their tax dollars paying for abortions (which also doesn’t happen.)

It’s why we can somehow pin all our fear of terrorist violence on Muslim people despite the fact that white American men are vastly more likely to carry out terrorist attacks on American citizens. It’s also why we can simultaneously scream to the high heavens that it’s unconstitutional to deny those white American men easy access to firearms but perfectly constitutional to detain, brutalize, and carry out invasive searches of Muslims and/or black Americans who have done nothing more illegal than buying an airline ticket or failing to obey a minor traffic law (if even that.)

It’s why people can convince themselves that a college-bound high school graduate who committed absolutely no crime is a “demonic” thug who deserved his own murder but the policeman who murdered him is a hero who deserves a million dollars in crowdfunding money.

It’s why the people who hold the vast majority of financial and political and media power in the US can unironically contend that they’re being oppressed because someone says “happy holidays” or suggests that they shouldn’t appropriate non-white cultures.

Which brings me the second subject I raised way up there in the first paragraph. In addition to the left’s not-so-subtle default to ableism, I’m seeing repeated instances of misinformation crossing my dash. Not nearly as many–or nearly as blatant–as the right, of course, but it’s very insidious.

Like this post from a couple days ago. A point of misinformation in the middle of an otherwise well-thought-out and factual argument is a rotten able that will taint the whole barrel.

Some may argue that, in a society that has deliberately been denied the ability to think critically, relying on appeals to emotion, buzzwords, and outrage generated on false premises–as opposed to accurately educating people about the issues–is the only way the left can win. But are we really still progressives if we do that?

TL;DR–if you pride yourself on being progressive but default to ableist language to further your agenda, you’re behaving no better than the sexist troglodytes of #GamerGate. And if you consider yourself progressive but you resort to tactics which bypass the requirement for critical thought (and would fail the test of critical thought if applied) you’re no better than FOX News.

Either way, knock it off.

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Some clarification on what is offensive about yesterday’s brouhaha

Okay, before anyone comes at me with the old “it’s so-and-so’s site, she can review what she wants” battle cry, misrepresenting what are the issues with this entire debacle over female-bodied-sexuality in m/m romance, let me get a few things on record.

Yes, people can read what they want. They can review what they want. No one is debating their right to do so. That’s not the problem.

The problem is that it’s misleading to cast ones site as being inclusive when it’s not. Don’t pretend to be a champion of all folk under the rainbow when you’re actually just a fan of the peen.

The problem is that it’s hypocritical to QQ about discrimination and disrespect while being discriminatory and disrespectful. It’s hypocritical to take readers and writers to task for making the genre about “the erotic needs of straight women” while maintaining a policy intended to pander to the erotic needs of straight women.

The problem is that it’s disingenuous to claim the issue is about het sex when what you’re actually frequently talking about is male-bodied/female-bodied queer sex, which is not the same thing. Worse, it’s extremely offensive to mislabel male-bodied/female-bodied sex as “het” sex because in doing so, you’re deliberately and repeatedly misgendering trans* folk and committing erasure against bifolk, intersex folk, and any number of other people under the rainbow.

The problem is that the m/m genre is a hotbed of gynophobia and internalized misogyny by people who ought to fucking know better, and to further that problem while patting oneself on the back for being on a crusade for representation of under-represented peoples is absolutely absurd. And worse! It’s hypocritical to hop on the feminist platform rail about how badly female characters are presented in m/m romance with regard to characterization archetypes and tropes, while simultaneously perpetuating gynophobia and internalized misogyny with regard to the mere mention of certain anatomy and sexual situations.

The problem is that it’s absolutely infuriating to act as though female reproductive anatomy and female-bodied sexuality is so shocking and off-putting on-page that it requires the same sort of warning usually reserved for controversial and triggering subjects as rape and graphic violence and abuse.

The problem is the entitled attitude behind behaving as though authors have a moral and ethical obligation not only to write what you want to read, but to protect your delicate special-snowflake eyeballs from anything they might find objectionable. Do you think Stephen King included warnings for underaged sex and domestic violence in IT? Did V.C. Andrews (or her publisher) warn for incest and underaged sex and rape in Flowers in the Attic? They didn’t, at least not in any of the editions I’ve read. I don’t see anyone weeping big crocodile tears over the lack of warning labels there. Labels and warnings are a courtesy, not an entitlement. You are not owed them. When you pay for a book, you aren’t owed anything but pages with some text on them. that’s it. There are no guarantees you’ll like it. There aren’t even any guarantees it will be well-written (Dan Brown, I’m looking at YOU.) You’re not owed a book that is to your taste and specifications and has nothing within it that you don’t find objectionable and warnings if it has something you might. In fact, the use of warnings and labels is generally considered to be a form of censorship and to have a chilling effect on free speech, which is why there have been huge legal battles over warning labels and age restrictions on music and video games. You’re lucky to get them when you get them. So be grateful authors and publishers include them at all from time to time.

So. Read what you want. Review what you want. But don’t be hypocritical, offensive, or an entitled princess in the process.

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A warning about fair warning

So today, a popular review site posted a predictable and very, very tired rant about girl parts in m/m romance. Over on my Tumblr, I responded with my own rant calling them out on trans*phobia, biphobia and internalized misogyny.

But what gets me more than anything else is the sense of entitlement. The entitlement of the audience to tell the artist what to create. The entitlement of the audience to claim disrespect and even discrimination for daring to create something some members of the audience might not want to see.

You know, in gaming circles, we get a fair number of rants on that nature, only they go like this:

Dude, the majority of the gaming audience is men and we don’t want to see games about chicks and fags, and omg! if you make a game featuring chicks and/or fags, or if you complain about misrepresentation of chicks or fags, you’re discriminating and oppressing TEH MENZ!

Sounds pretty absurd, doesn’t it? The rational and reasonable response would be “the majority of games feature and appeal to “teh menz” so you shouldn’t begrudge the small minority which represent and include woman and gay players. We would rightfully call the authors of such rants out on their rampant blindness to their own privilege, which allows them to perceive even the smallest step toward representational parity as discrimination and/or oppression.

The majority of m/m romance features dick and only dick, and I’m okay with that. I like that gay men are being portrayed as heroes in books. But don’t trans*folk and bifolk deserve portrayal as well? And how freaking absurd is it to claim that readers of m/m romance are being disrespected and oppressed by the portrayal and/or inclusion of these characters? And why should your trans*phobia, biphobia, and the internalized misogyny that makes you uncomfortable with the notion of female-bodied sexuality dictate who should and shouldn’t receive representation in a book?

Of course, the refrain, the one single attempt at rationality in the rant in question is that it’s about labeling and fair warning. That it’s fine to write those stories, just make sure to WARN the reader/reviewer about the content. In other words, warn the reader if there are “girl parts.”

You know what? No. Fuck you. You warn for things that might trigger your audience: underaged sex, abuse, graphic violence, dubcon/non-con/rape fantasy or roleplay, and character death. (And let me go to say this is a fanfic convention, not a publishing convention, because do you think people who write mysteries, or war stories, or horror stories warn for shit like that? Hell no. But the new wave of small-press genre publishing, which is largely frequented by people who got their start in fandom, do warn for stuff that like.) These things are warned about as a courtesy, not because the author and/or publisher has any moral or ethical obligation to telegraph their punches by telling readers and reviewers in advance what is going to happen.

These things that are traditionally warned about all have one commonality: they can be shocking and/or traumatic, particularly someone with PTSD triggers.

Since when is pussy considered triggering? (spoiler alert: it’s not, this basically all boils down to “eww, girl parts” with a dash of “I don’t find that personally titillating so I don’t want to read it.”)

In either the post or a comment responding to it, someone said the audience has a “right” to know. I think this person has a mistaken concept of what “rights” are. When you buy a book, you have a “right” to exactly one thing: the book you bought. Doesn’t matter what’s in it. You pays your money, you takes your chances. You have a right to dislike the book, but you don’t have a right to demand the author to write something different if you don’t like it. And you certainly don’t have the right to demand that author spoil major events of the book and plot by announcing them in advance.

So, here is fair warning about what I will issue warning for: underage sexual activity whether it’s consensual or not, domestic abuse whether physical or emotional, dubcon/non con (and I’ll even throw in consensual non-consent, i.e. fantasy role play about forced-sex scenarios), graphic violence, and maaaaaybe, if it doesn’t spoil the whole book too badly, major character death.

I will not warn about the death of secondary characters, minor violence, or activities where all parties are consenting and of-age, even if those activities are things that aren’t everyone’s cuppa, like BDSM and “eww girl parts.”

There. Caveat Emptor. Consider yourself warned.

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