Introduction by Will McLeod (OllieGarkey)
The war on women has gone viral, and now involves acts of domestic terrorism. Women in technology are being targeted. Anyone who defends them is targeted, has their personal contact information posted on line, and is subjected to systematic harassment. This can include anything from cash-on-delivery pizza orders sent to their homes, death threats made with photographs of their home pulled from google maps, or more recently, swat teams from police departments made to believe that there is a hostage situation in the home in question. One of those hostage scenarios involved live fire, and the shooting of a family dog. These attacks are nothing more than attempted murder by cop.
This wave in the War on Women is calling itself “GamerGate” online. It's good old fashioned sexism, and it's being used to silence women, and chase them out of the tech sector.
The acts of domestic terrorism which are targeting women and their allies have not been reported well by our media. In response to one of the few attempts to cover these attacks in an article for the Washington Post, the Journalists have faced the same tactics of domestic terrorism and harassment that supporters of women have faced, simply for reporting the story in a way that the online hate-mob didn't appreciate.
Please join me in welcoming Blogger and Citizen Journalist Margaret Pless to DailyKos. Her blog at IdleDilletante has been faithfully covering this wave in the War on Women. She's helped those of us at Netroots Radio begin covering this story in depth. Her blog was among the first to crack Gamergate, and expose the hypocrisy and disinformation campaign at the hart of this new wave of reactionary domestic terrorism.
The harassment campaign began in August of last year. Throughout the past five months, this campaign has not abated in the least. The old lie that ignoring a bully makes them go away has proved totally ineffective. This self-sustaining storm of sexism has only grown more vicious in the past five months, as the recent spate of Swatting attacks have proven.
For those targeted by this harassment campaign, August might never end. The least we can do as progressives is refuse to let the people targeted by this hate mob suffer alone, and in silence.
Margaret and I have decided to work together to cover this story, in depth. We're committing ourselves to one post per week covering the harassment attacks. In our ongoing series, we'll highlight the usual suspects involved in the hate mob, a strange mix of Mens' Rights activists, white nationalists, and disaffected internet trolls. There are even a handful of people who refer to themselves as progressives, and who have no problem with sidling up to a movement lionized by breitbart, and hosted by individuals who write articles for white nationalist websites such as “The Daily Stormer.” We'll also be running profiles of their targets, many of them bold progressives who've found themselves suddenly at the front lines of the war on women.
In this introductory post, Margaret's brings us all up to speed on the hate mob calling itself GamerGate, and provide a context for our ongoing reporting here at DailyKos and on Netroots radio.
Have you ever heard of #gamergate?
You know, that online hate mob which formed in August 2014 when a 24-year-old from Massachusetts (pretentious loser Eron Gjoni) wrote a rambling manifesto about his ex (independent game developer Zoe Quinn)? Remember when he handed to it trolls online, and they started harassing Quinn until she was forced to flee her home? Remember how this mob quickly metastasized and began threatening other feminist game developers (Phil Fish, Brianna Wu), game critics (Anita Sarkeesian) and programmers (Randi Harper)? #Gamergate, the online hate mob which basically goes after women in tech, and those who support them and has been doing so for almost half a year?
Yeah, that #gamergate. Maybe you heard one news story about it in the fall, or saw Zoe Quinn once on the BBC (she appeared twice) for a discussion about “online trolling.”
I wouldn’t be surprised if you didn’t recognize all the names on that list, although I do. I’ve been writing about it for months, watching this campaign against women online go down, wondering who I should hand this whole bag of smoking guns, complete with fingerprints off to. Because alone, I can only do so much to combat the domestic terrorism I’ve witnessed.
Most people think #gamergate is over, but it isn’t. The same trolls are out there, they’re just bored and know that the hashtag has been discredited. But when people have death threats and swat teams sent to their homes, it's the same people, every time. The system which supports gamergate has existed, continues to exist, and will persist under new names, against new women to hate. It's like how the John Birchers became the Militia Movement, became the Tea Party. #Gamergate itself has undergone its own series of name changes, originally one called “five guys” from Eron’s callout, and then #Quinnspiracy; until Adam Baldwin came up with the phrase #gamergate in a late August Youtube video summarizing what had happened before.
The names change, but the loose organization stays in place. #Gamergate didn’t begin with Anita Sarkeesian, Zoe Quinn, or Brianna Wu, and it persists now against newer targets. But it’s the same people, on the same boards, the same communities every time that engage in the harassment. Women have left their jobs, left their social media accounts, and even left the internet entirely because of the harassment they receive. If they return, the same people are there waiting for them.
The message is clear: when a poorly organized “movement” like #gamergate pillories a figure like Zoe Quinn, other women are warned that if they don’t conform, if they don’t please men, they will be next. If women aim high in a male-dominated industry, backlash mobs like #gamergate will make their sexual history a matter of public record. They will try to take everything you’ve earned away from you, perpetuating rumor until you become a folk demon and pariah at your own workplace.
There is a war on women in technology. It’s not just trolling, either. It’s a persistent pattern of naming, targeting, and escalation; of death threats and rape threats and violence against those whom the aggressors perceive as vulnerable. It is viciously transphobic, viciously homophobic, and viciously misogynist in its nature. It is a support group for the same people, a way of normalizing the harassment they carry out and assuring each other they’re not bad people. Seeing angry image macros about Zoe Quinn there is what allows Eron Gjoni to look at his reflection and tell himself he was a whistleblower, instead of a controlling ex-boyfriend.
I used the word domestic terrorism earlier, because I think that’s the only way to describe some of the most extreme attacks. What other word is there for the guy who threatened to shoot up Utah State University in response to Anita Sarkeesian’s giving a talk there?
Since New Year's Day 2015, there have been four attempted SWATing attacks. I've included a recording of the call from the first one (Early morning of January 2nd.) by the anon who said he was responsible for it.
Then on January 4th, a SWAT team was deployed to the former home of Grace Lynn.The current residents, not knowing their address had come up on the targets list, were terrified.
The third attack was against Israel Galvez, a vocal critic of gamergate, on January 9. He went on the daily kos's netroots radio to share his story.
Finally, on or around the 12th of January, a post-production manager named Ashley Lynch had mounties sent to her home just for reading and agreeing an anonymous gamergate critic.
But unlike most terrorism cells, this one operates in the open. There’s no password required to view this stuff, it’s not a super secret patriarchal clubhouse. Many people do it under their real names, and those who profit from this machine of harassment (and there are profits) necessarily have names. The prophets of these movements almost always use their real names and faces, as both cunning leaders and banners under which the hordes may gather. Their social media accounts serve as a kind of wheelhouse for online-harassment related traffic.
Some would say it’s rude for me to call #gamergate misogynist. But when your top proponents are right wing, pick-up-artist, misogynist types who gleefully direct harassment against women from a large group of anonymous third parties, it would be inaccurate for me to fail to call it misogynistic. If a certain consumer-driven revolt walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and claims “the bitch deserved it” when you throw it in the water, it is misogyny.
I’m Margaret Pless and I’m looking forward to covering this misogyny on the Daily Kos in the future. Until then, sign me off as idlediletante.
For more, you can listen to Margaret's Netroots Radio interview. On our regular Friday News Dump & Recycling Center, Margaret, Will, Arliss Bunny, and Justice Putnam discuss feminism, domestic terrorism, and the new misogyny. It's a must-listen.
For a discussion of Swatting, you can listen to our interview with Swatting Victim and web developer Israel “Izzy” Galvez. Izzy is Hispanic, a person of color. The Swatting attack wielded against him involved a hoax phone call which told the police that he was armed, dangerous, mentally unstable, and was manufacturing explosives. Our interview with Izzy was a Tuesday special report.