Even a simple #StopGamerGate2014 tweet can get the average Twitter user a deluge of threats from anonymous jerks. But, #GamerGate's most prominent targets aren't backing down any time soon.
Anita Sarkeesian, the creator of the Feminist Frequency YouTube series, spoke to Rolling Stone in the wake of a cancelled appearance at Utah State University after USU received an anonymous threat promising "the deadliest school shooting in American history" if Sarkeesian's speech wasn't canceled. This isn't the first threat she's received about speaking engagements, but what led her to cancel was the state's concealed carry laws and a refusal by local authorities to search or otherwise screen attendees for weapons.
Sarkeesian told Rolling Stone, "Not only did these e-mails threaten to carry out the worst school shooting in American history, but the language in the messages was also very reminiscent of, and even mentioned, previous misogynist school shootings such as the Montreal Massacre at Ecole Polytechnique committed by Marc Lépine and the UC Santa Barbara shootings committed by Elliot Rodger this past May… I specifically requested metal detectors or pat-downs to make absolutely sure no guns were in the auditorium. Police responded by stating that they would not do any type of screening whatsoever for firearms because of Utah's concealed-carry laws. At that point I canceled the speaking event because I felt it was deeply irresponsible for me or the school to put everyone's lives at risk if they can't take precautions to prevent firearms from being present at an event at an educational institution — especially one that was just directly, clearly threatened with a mass shooting spree."
In response, game developer Brianna Wu came out with a blistering, kick-ass essay on XOJane this week, declaring, "They threatened the wrong woman this time. I am the Godzilla of bitches. I have a backbone of pure adamantium, and I'm sick of seeing them abuse my friends."
Wu added, "I woke up twice last night to noises in the room, gasping with fear that someone was there to murder me. I can barely function without fear or jumpiness or hesitation. I've been driven from my home. My husband says he feels like he's been shot. But I have to be honest: I don't give a f**k. I am mad as hell at these people, and I'm not going to let them keep destroying the women I love and respect."
Zoe Quinn, whose ex-boyfriend Eron Gjoni provided the impetus for #GamerGate with a long blog post about their relationship, isn't going anywhere either. She's still active on Twitter, despite the continued public and private harassment and threats.
Although the toxicity takes a huge toll, Sarkeesian said it's all worth it. "The amount of support that I get for doing it, the actual change that I am starting to see, the really sweet messages that I get from people about how they were resistant to identify as feminist, but then they watched my videos and they were like, "Oh, obviously! I agree with these things!", the parents who use it as an educational tool for their kids…all of this is really inspiring to me. When I was in Portland for my talk at the XOXO Festival, this little boy came up to me and said, "Hi, I'm a feminist gamer." How do you stop doing this work after that?" How indeed. (Rolling Stone)