Content warning: This post addresses “Men’s Rights Activist” bullshit and the pro-patriarchy white supremacist, misogynist, and especially transmisogynist positions inherent to MRAs. Links may go to places you might not want to go, so you’re duly warned. It also contains links to my old blog, where I used an acronym I choose to not use anymore to refer to radical fauxminists.
In the past month and a half or so, the “#Gamergate movement” has risen to pretty much dominate Twitter with its…well, I have no idea what the hell GamerGate is about. It claims to be about “ethics in games journalism” (but can’t be arsed to take on MetaCritic, if you know what I mean, since they’re too busy harassing women) but in practice has actually been about harassing women and minorities online, especially those of us in gaming. #GamerGate, though claiming to be leaderless, is centered around the MRA hate movement (and MRAs themselves are patting themselves on the back for it...) and seems to be serving the ends that Misogyny Reinforcing Assholes work for: white supremacy, subjugation of women, and trying to bring about some bizarre Gorean RP of 1950s “White Suburbia” in the US. GamerGate also has shamelessly leveraged this anonymity to ensure maximal infliction of terror and minimal accountability for that terror. It’s a sort of leveling up of MRA rhetoric to use this anonymity as part of their harassment campaign, but it also leads to an ability to claim MRAs have nothing to do with it when it suits them.
GamerGate has a side movement called #NotYourShield that is either the most incorrect use of the term “not” in history or proof that a bunch of self-described gamers is unable to understand shield mechanics. While there are some actual users who embraced NYS so that they could serve as GamerGate’s shield for some reason or another, it’s largely a manufactured movement courtesy of 4chan. The mass sockpuppetry that NYS brings us with a handful of actual accounts that have been around for a while leads one to doubt what the actual intent is, which seems to be to be thrown out as extant whenever one criticizes the wholesale and toxic misogyny of GamerGate. And while we’re at it, the presence of women in NotYourShield, the ones that aren’t sockpuppets that is, is conditional on embrace of MRA theology and GamerGate’s harassment…you can’t challenge that. In other words, a hashtag claiming not to be a shield is in fact the people being used as one. Pretty sneaky, GamerGate.
So if that’s not bad enough, now that GamerGate has flooded the internet with its demands for “ethics in gaming journalism” (which still haven’t been clearly stated, other than whining about Kotaku) some of its architects are actually admitting it was about harassing women. There’s GamerGate’s “based lawyer”, a massively misogynist, transmisogynist, ablest, fatphobic tool named Mike Cernovich. And then there’s the rampant anti-Semitism present in GamerGate to the point they’re riffing on actual Nazi propaganda to libel Anita Sarkeesian. And there’s the time they tried to take over tables belonging to a reserved party having nothing to do with GamerGate at Ground Kontrol, a barcade in Portland. Oh, and a whole bunch of Twitter accounts that responded to GamerGate harassment got suspended for “spamming”, but there’s no proof that despite the complete correlation between people responding to their harassment getting suspended that it actually was GamerGate. It’s just a curious, curious coincidence. In the past week, GamerGate has become more aware than ever that it’s circling the drain now that even its own adherents admit it’s about harassing women and copying and pasting thoroughly debunked lies about Zoe Quinn.
I’m a woman. I play games. I’m the best damn resto shammy on my server. I knew how Skyrim’s main questline ended like a week before anyone else I know. I used to play tabletop, but lack a venue and safe place for that, and my local friends aren’t into that sort of thing. I’m also a trans woman, and have been a pretty constant target for MRA shittiness since I started writing my first blog. I consider MRAs to be equivalent to radical fauxminists in their thirst for the blood of trans women, and the wholesale and repeatedly documented transmisogyny of the “Men’s Rights” movement is at this point indisputable. Unlike radical fauxminists, a fringe movement that claims that advancing pro-patriarchy ends in the guise of feminism as ‘feminist’, this is the bloody mainstream of the “Men’s Rights” movement, their sacred leaders who dispense MRA theology. (They’re rampantly hateful toward lesbians, too. Oh, and they’re saying trans men are the same as lesbians. Grossbuckets!) There have been some highly misguided trans women who believe that following MRA theology, even as it degenders us and yet subjects us to the same misogynistic hate as all women, makes sense. I guess that’s the same sort of anger that leads trans women who engage in allegedly “gender-critical” pro-patriarchy fauxminism to punch down on other trans women and some cis women leads people down the garden path holding hands with the MRAs who work hard to wipe us out. I mean, MRAs, radical fauxminists, HBSers…it’s the same hate.
So why do I say this? Well, it’s because GamerGate is a special threat to trans women beyond just a threat to women in general since it’s basically an MRA recruiting event, and a lot of us who are trans women are gamers. In fact, there’s been some serious exploration of the idea that gaming worlds are the first places many of us explore our gender identity and safer spaces for us to occupy. It wasn’t for me personally, but I can relate, as the only characters I really “RP” (that’s roleplaying for you non-gamer sorts) are male characters because I’ve been intensely interested with how much differently people treat someone they assume to be a gent, and because come on, tauren all look pretty gender-neutral and you can make “mess with the bull” jokes much more easily.
Alright, now that I’ve exhausted my clutch of WoW in-jokes (…did someone say [Thunderfury, Blessed Blade of the Windseeker]?), it’s time to be real: the MRA-led harassment campaign that is GamerGate affects all women, but has a disparate impact on trans women. In fact, some of the most specifically acidic harassment and most liberally dispensed death threats by this MRA hate campaign have been implying that one of their harassment targets is a trans woman. It’s not my place to address if she’s trans or not, but that’s because it’s none of my goddamn business and it don’t make the death threats she’s received any different. Separately, GamerGate is harassing an out trans game dev, too. GamerGate is defined by and holds misogyny as one of its core values, so transmisogyny being part of their game too? This shouldn’t surprise anyone with a pulse…or any lich, for that matter.
It’s time to stand up and present a united front, queers in general and trans people in specific: GamerGate is a toxic and execrable hate campaign to drive women who don’t fall in line with MRA theology out of gaming, no more, no less. This is bad for all women, and especially bad for women who MRA theology targets in particular: trans women, lesbians, sex workers, and women of color, but don’t think for a second that MRA theology is anything less than toxic to all women, and possibly even some men, as their reverence for patriarchy and boundless hate for anyone who doesn’t follow them unquestioningly has overflowed into a movement that uses its leaderless, structureless nature to terrorize the people that MRAs hate. It’s time to say no to GamerGate and MRA hate alike, because this is a movement born and raised to hurt women, and in particular marginalized women, and tell us gaming isn’t for us. There’s nothing “ethical” about that, and there’s nothing “ethical” about GG’s MRA core’s desire: dominion and control over yet another space.
We say no. And we all know how much MRAs love it when you say no, but we say no.