Sarkeesian Cancels Utah State Speech After Anonymous Death Threats
Feminist gaming critic Anita Sarkeesian has cancelled the speech she was going to give today at Utah State University after multiple, anonymous deaths threats were made on her life and the school's attendees.
Kotaku reports more anonymous threats had forced Anita Sarkeesian to cancel the speech she was scheduled to give at Utah State University. Utah State was going to enable security measures due to a letter from an anonymous student, claiming he take "revenge" if Sarkeesian's speech about misogyny and institutionalized sexual harassment in gaming happened at the school.
Sarkeesian canceled her speech because the school's campus security and the Logan City Police Department wouldn't seek her preferred preventative measures against anyone carrying concealed firearms at the event; Sarkeesian likely asked for security and police to pat audience members down before entering the auditorium where she'd be giving her speech.
Part of the issue stemmed from Utah's concealed carry laws, which permits anyone with the proper paperwork from bringing a weapon into public buildings. As such, the law enforcement wasn't willing to deny entrance to anyone attending with such paperwork. Given that one of the anonymous letters promised the "deadliest school shooting in American history," we understand Sarkeesian's desire for heavy security and decision to ultimately cancel the event.
Sarkeesian has been an frontline advocate about women's rights in the gaming industry and in video game lore. Her recent video series, 'Tropes vs. Women in Video Games' focuses on the subconscious negative effects that the ongoing use of character types such as the damsel in distress, the evil demon seductress and the manic pixie dream girl all have on the masses after being repeatedly used and exploited throughout gaming history.
After raising nearly $158,000 on Kickstarter to start her 'Tropes vs. Women in Video Games' video series, a group of gamers believe Sarkeesian pushed her feminist views as a means of seeking fame to encourage more donations her way via a crowdfunding campaign that had an original goal of $6,000. It's hard to refute the points Sarkeesian make in her series, especially the meek damsel in distress trope, which has been used from Super Mario to The Legend of Zelda.
Given most video games came from Japan (a very misogynistic culture) until the mid 2000s and the industry is still male-dominated, we have seen these tropes again and again and understand why they've been used so much. Criticism of Sarkeesian's videos is of course fair, as even we don't agree with everything she says, but nevertheless, there is no excuse for these type of threats, regardless how much a person disagrees with Sarkeesian's views. Earlier this year, bomb threats were made at the 2014 Game Developers Conference just because of her appearance at the event.
Factoring in the recent threats and doxxing Brianna Wu experienced as a result of Gamergate (still not sure what it is? read about it here), it's a shame that the extreme actions of a few ruins most chances for an ethical debate.