Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Not OK: Hateful Man-Babies Target Zoe Quinn. Again.

Image via shutterstock
 Zoe Quinn, the indie lead developer behind the emotionally moving interaction fiction game Depression Quest recently released for free on Steam, as well as Narrative Designer for FRAMED, is being targeted by an unruly mob of misogynist anti-feminists (both overtly and under the guise of being concerned with journalistic integrity) again.

She was first targeted last year when her attempt to get Depression Quest approved via Steam's Greenlight program was cancelled after she was the target of a harassment campaign from a message board. The harassment bled from online into her offline world when her private phone number was published, leading to harassing and obscene phone calls. 

She resubmitted Depression Quest to the Steam Greenlight program a second time, and this time, despite the harassment from reddit, twitter, 4chan, and down-voting campaigns on Steam itself, Depression Quest was approved and released on Steam last week.

Now the same brigade of angry dudebro gamers are claiming Quinn is corrupt, or corrupting Kotaku, or setting back women developers? Quinn tweeted about her parents' phone number getting obscene phone calls. The sub-reddit r/Gaming has a post from its moderator calling out the egregious, harassing behavior of its members-- only to receive nearly 2,000 down-votes.Why? Thanks to a multi-part blog series by an angry ex-boyfriend that did nothing but air out relationship problems in public. Suddenly, men that would not bat an eye over sexual behavior were it done by a fellow dude are calling for an end to her career.

Quinn herself addressed the matter as much as it deserved in a blog entry on Monday:
I am not going to link to, or address anything having to do with the validity of the specific claims made by an angry ex-boyfriend with an ax to grind and a desire to use 4chan as his own personal army. This is not a “she-said” to his “he-said”. The idea that I am required to debunk a manifesto of my sexual past written by an openly malicious ex-boyfriend in order to continue participating in this industry is horrifying, and I won’t do it. It’s a personal matter that never should have been made public, and I don’t want to delve into personal shit, mine or anyone else’s, while saying that people’s love and sex lives are no one’s business. I’m not going to talk about it. I will never talk about it. It is not your goddamned business. 
What I *am* going to say is that the proliferation of nude pictures of me, death threats, vandalization, doxxing of my trans friends for having the audacity to converse with me publicly, harassment of friends and family and my friends’ family in addition to TOTALLY UNRELATED PEOPLE, sending my home address around, rape threats, memes about me being a whore, pressures to kill myself, slurs of every variety, fucking debates over what my genitals smell like, vultures trying to make money off of youtube videos about it, all of these things are inexcusable and will continue to happen to women until this culture changes. I’m certainly not the first. I wish I could be the last. 
Because I've had a small degree of success in a specific subculture, every aspect of my life is suddenly a matter of public concern. Suddenly it’s acceptable to share pictures of my breasts on social media to threaten and punish me. Suddenly I don’t have any right to privacy or basic dignity. Suddenly I don’t get to live out normal parts of life, like going through a bad and ugly breakup in private. I have forfeited this by being a blip in a small community, while those who delight in assailing me hide behind their keyboards and a culture that permits it, beyond reproach. 
My life and my body are not public property. No one’s life and body are public property.
And that's what it boils down to-- a bunch of sexist shook gamers acting like gatekeepers and hypocritically talking about ethics and integrity while trying to bring up a women's private life as a detriment to her career. Talking about fighting corruption while harassing her via reddit and twitter. Talking out of one side of their mouth about the truth while talking gossip and character assassination with the other.

This is unacceptable. It's unacceptable to happen to Zoe Quinn. It's unacceptable to happen to any women in the games industry. This happening to even one woman is one too many, and while Zoe Quinn isn't going anywhere, a number of bright, talented women writers in the gaming scene have been targeted, harassed and hounded-- Anita Sarkeesian, Samantha Allen, Courtney Stanton, Maddy Meyers, and Brianna Wu are the most recent that come to mind. Samantha Allen actually stopped writing about games because of the daily level of constant harassment. 

I covered a bit on the difference between the harassment men and women get in the games industry in "Mythbusting Ideas About Women In Games" that excerpted from Brianna Wu's article as well as linking to an example provided by Sarkeesian, but I want to quote from the end of my post "The Status Is Not Quo: Being A Geeky Woman Online & What Med Need To Do":

Women's hurt and fear for safety and the emotional toll for being harassed online have real, chilling impact on discourse.

This is unacceptable. And the burden of speaking out shouldn't continually fall to the women being harassed. So what can we do? Guys, we have to loudly speak out against this behavior. We have to support women in our creative and media spaces. We need to let other men know that this behavior is not okay, and we need to make it socially unacceptable. We need to listen to women's experiences-- really listen, and not just wait for our chance to say "not all men". We need to realize that online harassment isn't something that just happens-- it's a choice that is made, it is a crime that is done.

As Andy Kouri says in "Fake Geek Guys: A Message to Men About Sexual Harassment":

It is wholly and rightfully and crucially up to men in this society and especially in this subculture to speak out and watch out. To end the cycle of bullying, harassment and violence. To recognize the grotesque irony of degrading women over matters of heroic fictions whose lessons about fairness and decency we've supposedly been studying since we were just little boys, and to start putting those ideas into practice as grown-ass men.

It's not just a few bad apples, guys. It's a lot of bad apples. These are guys that think they represent gamers, that they say what other men are thinking. And we have to push back on this. If you care about safety, if you care about equality, you must push back on this. Staying silent in an attempt to be neutral isn't really being neutral. It just makes dissenting voices less common, and makes the misogynists think that they have your support.


deathberry0 said...

and you throw perojatives at people like a hateful child yourself. good job you are a fucking piece of shit.

Shawn Struck said...

Yeah, deathberry, I'm pretty comfortable with insulting people that have sent death threats, vandalized twitter accounts and web pages, doxxed people, ,ade baseless accusation, harassed, stalked, and threatened not only people they're mad at but people who support those they're mad at, etc. Like on one side, there's everybody that's done the above, plus, what Quinn outlined, plus what happened to Phil Fish.

On the other side... there's me, a random blogger who called all those people hateful man-babies.

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