*Content warning: contains email describing violence against women
Anita Sarkeesian is the creator of Feminist Frequency, a video webseries that explores the representation of women in pop culture. According to the website, Feminist Frequency “largely serves as an educational resource to encourage critical media literacy and provide resources for media makers to improve their works of fiction.” Sounds awesome, right? Well, not to everyone. There’s always someone who can’t be supportive of educating people about feminism.
Yesterday, on Tuesday, October 14th, Anita Sarkeesian cancelled her appearance at Utah State University. She was supposed to speak at USU today (Wednesday the 15th) about how women are depicted in pop culture, an event that was organized by campus feminist and the center for women’s and gender studies. However, Sarkeesian had to cancel her talk because of the events following this email:
This email is incredibly frightening. The author claims: “I have at my disposal a semi-automatic rifle, multiple pistols, and a collection of pipe bombs,” and “a Montreal Massacre style attack will be carried out against the attendees” as well as students, staff and the women’s center. The entire email is just so gruesome, disgusting, terrifying, and I cannot imagine how or why someone would want to do something so horrible.
As a college campus, Utah State University should have done something to prevent this threat from occulting. However, as a result of a 2004 law, Utah’s universities are prohibited from enacting policy that “in any way inhibits or restricts the possession or use of firearms.” In other words, USU could not prohibit anyone from bringing guns to the event. They were planning on increasing security for the lecture and forbid backpacks in the auditorium, but they couldn’t do anything about guns. Pretty messed up, right?
That is the reason why Anita Sarkeesian cancelled her event. Not because she received a death threat, but because Utah State University would not (and legally could not) do anything to prevent firearms at this event. Sarkeesian informed the public about this event, via twitter, and spoke out about the whole issue of #gamergate:
For those who don’t know, Gamergate is a controversy in the video game community in August 2014, so fairly recently. It concerns “issues of sexism and misogyny in the gaming community, as well as journalistic ethics in the online gaming press, particularly conflicts of interest between video game journalists and developers.” It is a long, complicated story, so I will link to the wikipedia page about it, which is very informative about the subject. For purposes of the Anita Sarkeesian story, all you need to know is that she has received multiple death threats from the video game community before, although the potential USU shooter did not claim to be affiliated with Gamergate.The previous threats followed the latest in a series of videos on misogyny in gaming community. This misogyny prompted over 2,000 people to sign an open letter calling for an end to discrimination in the gamer community. Obviously, that discrimination has not been achieved.
I am so disappointed that Anita Sarkeesian could not speak at USU today, because after watching a few of her videos, I think that her cause is so necessary in the video gamer community. There is so much misogyny, and the fact that people get angry at Sarkeesian for pointing out the discrimination just adds to it. I just can’t believe that women can’t share their OPINIONS about sexism in the media without receiving violent threats, or at least horrible hater comments. Going back to the situation at USU, the 2nd amendment infringed on the 1st amendment, yesterday: Sarkeesian could not speak freely on a topic that she feels passionate about because Utah cannot ban people from bringing guns on campus. And as the only state that allows guns on campus, I hope Utah changes their ways before a potentially tragic event actually happens after these sort of threats are made.