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What do Gamergate and the Kavanaugh hearings have in common?

by Shwetha Sundarrajan The opinions and views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the opinion of Byte or Byte's editorial board. Back in September, conservative writer Mark Judge was accused alongside Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault by Christine Blasey Ford. It turns out that Judge is also a staunch supporter of Gamergate, the widespread online harassment of several women in the gaming industry.

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For those who’ve never heard of #GamerGate, proponents of the controversial online movement claimed they only dealt with ethics in game journalism and with protecting the "gamer" identity. Although the movement has resulted in the sustained harassment of several prominent female game writers and creators such as Zoë Quinn and Anita Sarkeesian, supporters like Mark Judge argue that their movement is strictly advocating for a victimized demographic (white men) and fighting against corruption in game journalism. But what does Mark Judge have to do with #GamerGate? This July, Judge wrote a scathing article on feminist media critic Anita Sarkeesian, #GamerGate, and feminism, branding Sarkeesian’s entire message on female representation in the gaming industry as political correctness. In Sarkeesian’s three-part video series Damsel in Distress: Tropes vs Women in Video Games, she argues that “the damsel-in-distress trope disempowers female characters and robs them of the chance to be heroes in their own right.”   While Sarkeesian uses plenty of examples ranging from Starfox to Legend of Zelda to prove her point, Judge still characterizes her arguments as “overly broad, deceptive, and full of specific errors.” Judge goes on to outline the strategy of Sarkeesian and other “social justice warriors” as “raising an issue, shame critics by appealing to emotion, bully, express a lot of rage and personal hurt, guilt opponents into acquiescence, then move on to the next target.” Whereas in reality, the situation is reversed. It’s people like Judge and Youtubers such as Repzion and AlphaOmegaSin (who he mentions in the article) that shame and bully women like Sarkeesian for expressing their opinions. In backlash for her video series, Sarkeesian has been the target of thousands of death and rape threats, account hackings, and a barrage of abuse on her social media platforms. In a Tumblr post regarding the harassment she received, Sarkeesian addressed her haters with a short message and posted several tweets directed to her account. “I’ve been harassed on a daily basis by irate gamers angry at my critiques of sexism in video games. It can sometimes be difficult to effectively communicate just how bad this sustained intimidation campaign really is,” Sarkeesian said.
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In light of the Kavanaugh hearings, society has seen how entitlement plays a fundamental role in the thinking of powerful men such as Brett Kavanaugh and Mark Judge. In Judge’s follow-up piece Why Do Feminist Video Game Critics Want to Ban Male Fantasies? Judge alleges that Sarkeesian, “wants to ban men from having sexual fantasies.” He goes on to commoditize women, trying to justify his argument. “So, when guys play video games, they like to fantasize about enduring hardship and making it through difficult obstacles to be rewarded at the end (or sooner) with the attention of a gorgeous, sexy woman? And this is a problem?” Yes, Mark Judge, it is. According to a study done by Case Western Reserve University, researchers found that “entitled men were more likely to endorse views of women as manipulative, deceptive, and untrustworthy -- attitudes, which past research has shown are predictors of violence toward women.” And Judge sure seems to think Sarkeesian and all other “social justice warriors” are out to ruin video games for males. “It seems increasingly evident that Anita Sarkeesian, the feminist critic of alleged sexism in video games, wants to ban men from having sexual fantasies,” Judge said. Gaming is often seen as a male-dominated field which makes it difficult for women to break into the market as developers and critics. Even the few women who work in the gaming industry are bullied and harassed by their co-workers and the public. In an article from the Guardian, experts weighed in on the lack of inclusivity in the gaming industry. “Gamergate is an example of the shortcomings,” says Damilola Odelola founder of another diversity initiative, Blackgirl.tech, which provides free workshops introducing black women to technology, including virtual reality and coding. “There was a public outcry, but the issue wasn’t addressed properly by the industry. The reaction felt superficial.” While society as a whole is seeing a push towards equality between men and women, #Gamergate and the Kavanaugh hearings show that we still have a long way to go.

Sources: Gawker Accultured Tumblr The Guardian Science Daily
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