If you’ve ever been harassed on the Internet (and if you are a woman who has been public with her mind and thoughts online, you’ve likely experienced your fair share of trolls) then you know how surprisingly unsympathetic the average person can be to your plight. If you tell someone that some stranger on Twitter just said something super violent and sexual and creepy to you, the standard reply is something like: “It’s just some crazy dude living in his parent’s basement, you can’t take this stuff so personally, you just need to get over it.”
Of the many Internet-famous feminists who have dealt with trolls, few have dealt with more than Anita Sarkeesian, the woman behind the “Feminist Frequency” YouTube videos that point out misogynistic tropes in video games. Sarkeesian is lately a lightning rod figure, one of the central women targeted in the nuclear war zone that is the ongoing #GamerGate controversy.
To help people understand just how rough it is being the target of trolls, Sarkeesian recently published on her Tumblr screencaps of all the abusive tweets she received over the course of seven days, 157 in total.
“Ever since I began my ‘Tropes vs Women’ in Video Games project, two and a half years ago, I’ve been harassed on a daily basis by irate gamers angry at my critiques of sexism in video games,” Sarkeesian explains in the post. “It can sometimes be difficult to effectively communicate just how bad this sustained intimidation campaign really is. So I’ve taken the liberty of collecting a week’s worth of hateful messages sent to me on Twitter.”
Now, this is the part where I would usually screencap some of those tweets for you, but the language is so abusive I actually can’t post these tweets on Hello Giggles. That said, Mashable did a round-up of the frequency of NC-17 words used in these tweets:
“All in all, the word ‘c*nt’ appears 31 times and there are at least 24 explicit threats of rape or violence within the seven-day span of hateful messages. Other common attacks include users calling her a “femi-nazi” or a whore or a sexist and informing her that rape and death threats are a sacred part of gaming culture.”
The volume and intensity of online abuse that Sarkeesian has endured is literally nauseating. I want to scream my head off when I think about how many men have made it their second job to intimidate and harass one woman whose only crime was pointing out the misogyny in gaming, an opinion that is difficult to argue with, especially after seeing the level of abuse she has endured for the crime of being vocal about her opinions.
We need to stop dismissing Internet trolls as “sad losers you shouldn’t listen to.” NO ONE should have to endure over a hundred rape and death threats in the span of a week. No one should have to endure that over the span of a lifetime. Rather than tell victims to toughen up, we need to get the Internet to get tough on trolls, better enforce (or in some cases ACTUALLY enforce) harassment policies and shut down abusive users stat. No one should talk to each other this way and, yes, sometimes it’s just too hard to ignore.