A Promise Kept for Brianna Wu and Anita Sarkeesian

I asked the question on September 4, “Am I part of the problem of violence against women?” I then made a promise to myself and to women that I would no longer be silent. After, I started following some Twitter accounts, blogs and other social media accounts to keep myself informed and I came across #GamerGate.

This is one of the few times I was truly disturbed at what I read.

Women in the video gaming industry are being targeted for violence in an entertainment industry for speaking out for women’s role in tech and the perception on women in some but not all video games. Violence that includes having personal information such as bank accounts, personal phone numbers, addresses and the like hacked and posted online; threats of physical harm including rape, bombing of events at which they are appearing, and death threats.

But why?

To silence an opposing view. Nothing more.

The latest victim, Brianna Wu and her husband were driven from their home by death threats. let me repeat that. WERE DRIVEN FROM THEIR HOME!

Brianna Wu threat

Brianna Wu Threat

This because she audacity to speak out for the experience of women in the tech work force. She relates her personal experience and why and how it stems from sexism. She eloquently and energetically calls for diversity in the tech world after seeing first hand how toxic of an environment it can be. I can’t blame her if her words seem to be tinged with anger.

As Brianna Wu stated in her speech at AltConf “The absence of privilege is not oppression.” But why will these people, presumably men, go as far as criminal acts of violence to keep it? What have we come to when someone who wants to do no more than to provide quality entertainment has to live her life with threats of rape and death?

Anita Sarkeesian has also been made a target of violent threats for her video series “Feminist Frequency” that comments on the use, misuse and perception of women in video games, often as nothing more than objects.

 

Here is one of the facts I find stunning in cases like Brianna’s and Anita’s: All of the threats that I have seen, and I have been watching for them now, are anonymous. That’s right, dear readers, these people are cowards that while making threats of horrible violence do not have the courage of their convictions and post who they are.

Why? Simple.

They know they are breaking the law. Period. They know that making threats to one’s safety and life are felonies. They believe that anonymity will shield them from prosecution. But I have to wonder: If there is conspiracy among those making these threats does it cross the threshold of being investigated and tried under the RICO laws?

But here and now I publicly voice my support for and to Brianna and Anita and the other women who work in and report on the technology field that are having their lives thrown into chaos by fearful men who believe that male privilege shall never be challenged.

 

 We will not walk in fear, one of another; we will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason. If we dig deep into our history and our doctrine, remember that we are not descended from fearful men. Not from men who feared to write, to speak, to associate, and to defend the causes that, at the moment, were unpopular.

-Edward R. Murrow

 

 

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Roger Goodell Should Step Down

There are so many aspects of the Ray Rice debacle that absolutely have to be addressed. But for me one of the first is this: Roger Goodell, the presiding chief of the NFL. This is the man that was quoted in The Huffington Post as implying that

“that the NFL had not seen the explicit video before it was released by TMZ on Monday.”

I believe him and here is why. If the NFL never truly asked for the surveillance it would give them the best end around play: Plausible Deniability.

“We had not seen any videotape of what occurred in the elevator,” Goodell responded when asked if the NFL knew about the elevator video prior to Monday. “We assumed that there was a video. We asked for video. We asked for anything that’s pertinent. But we were never granted that opportunity.”

Until the video was released by TMZ the (lack of) NFL leadership COULD have said, “Well ya know… we don’t doubt that something happened on that elevator. But it could have been Rice shoved his fiancee toward the wall of the elevator where she bumped her head a little and was disoriented. Sorta like she was knocked out… and then Rice just tugged her hair a little to get her attention. Don’t get us wrong, that was a terrible  thing for the up and coming super star to and warrants severe consequences.”

Yeah. In July Ray Rice was levied with a 2 game suspension and fined the following week’s  game’s pay.

But bad news for the NFL commissioner, with the release of the security camera video, that defense of the light punishment evaporated. Time to do an about face, Roger.  Two days ago Goodell indefinitely suspended Rice after the Baltimore Ravens released him from the team.

But today another 180 by the good commish: Asked on CBS if Rice could return, Goodell said it’s possible.  “I don’t rule that out. But he would have to make sure that we are fully confident that he is addressing this issue. Clearly, he has paid a price for the actions that he’s already taken,” Goodell said.

Are you fuckin’ kidding me?

One in every four women will be a victim of domestic violence during their lifetime.  Twenty-five per cent of women have reason to be fearful in their own home. We need to end Violence Against Women here and now. The place to start is where young impressionable men find many of their role models, i.e., professional sports. And that starts with the sports leagues’ leadership. If gambling on league games results in indefinite suspension, sure as hell perpetrating violence in one’s home should result in disqualification. Permanently. Period.

Maybe then young men would think that roughing up others remains only on the playing field.

Roger Goodell, you have shown by your actions that you do not truly, honestly believe that domestic violence is an issue with the players in the NFL. As such, the most graceful thing you can do is resign and make room for someone who does.