Why it’s so important to speak out about sexism in gaming
The hashtag #SJWgate has exploded since #GamerGate erupted into a political battle last month, with a number of prominent figures expressing support for the movement.
And while many of those figures have spoken out publicly against harassment and abuse of women in gaming, there is a growing movement of gamers who are not willing to accept the fact that their voices are being heard and condemned.
“I’ve got to say that it’s been really empowering, and I think a lot of people are listening to what we have to say and not being afraid of what they might think of us,” says Zoe Quinn, the creator of Depression Quest, a popular online game.
“And I think that’s something that’s really important for us.”
She points to the #SJOve hashtag, which began as a joke to mock the #Gamergate movement and has since become an online rallying cry.
It was coined by a member of the gaming community, a gamer named @KotakuInAction, who shared a screenshot of a tweet from a Twitter user who had claimed that Anita Sarkeesian was a fraud.
Sarkeesians critics said they had been misquoted.
“It’s not just [SJWs] that are being harassed, it’s anyone who’s not white, cisgender, straight, male, able-bodied,” Quinn told Al Jazeera.
“I think that that’s what’s really been driving the movement.”
The #SJBust hashtag has since been used to express support for Quinn, Sarkeesys critics and others.
In its first few days, the hashtag has been used more than 7,000 times, more than 2,000 of them to share personal attacks against Quinn, and more than 5,000 to criticize Sarkeesyan.
The hashtag has also been used by other gamers who have had similar experiences with harassment, and it has gained traction in gaming circles.
For example, Twitter user @KarmaHorse posted a screenshot in response to a tweet about a game critic who had been targeted by a #SJDust hashtag: “She’s a liar.
You have to be a hypocrite.”
The backlash against Sarkeesy and Quinn is one of many #GamerGaters’ tactics.
Some have even gone so far as to publish a petition that asked Twitter to remove the accounts of those they accuse of being abusers.
“We are all SJWs and we all know it,” Quinn said.
“We have a problem in this country, and we’re all in this together.
We are all victims of this.”
In response, Sarandon, the outspoken voice of #Gamergaters, issued a statement saying: “The harassment of Zoe Quinn and Anita Sarandon is a direct result of a smear campaign.
The only way to eradicate it is to stand up to it and stop the spread of lies about us.”
The hashtag is being used by #SJPawn to defend those who support Quinn and Sarkeesya, who have faced harassment, abuse and death threats since the beginning of the #gamergate controversy.
Many of those supporters have come out to speak about their support for them and say they are fighting back against the attacks.
“This is a great day, and a great opportunity to show solidarity with Zoe and Anita and other women in the industry,” Sarandon said.
That is an attack on all women, on all of us, and on every woman in the world.””
But we can’t allow #SJAust to be used to silence the voices of the women in this industry, or even the games themselves.
That is an attack on all women, on all of us, and on every woman in the world.”
The response to the harassment against Sarandon and Quinn has also made a significant impact on #SJRust.
A tweet on Monday, from a user named @sara_bakalova, suggested that Sarandon had been “sexually harassed” by her critics, with an image of a photo of a woman being sexually harassed on the screen.
She followed up the tweet with a comment suggesting that the tweet was “a joke”, and she deleted it.
Twitter users have also retweeted her tweet and suggested Sarandon was trying to get revenge on Quinn for exposing the corruption in gaming.
“I don’t think it’s just the two of them, but Zoe Quinn herself is under assault, and she’s in a lot more danger than Anita Sarasyan,” Quinn says.
“She is vulnerable, and these are attacks that are coming from a misogynist position.”
She says she is aware that #SJCust is being misused as a way to silence her critics and is not willing “to be a punching bag” for those who abuse her.
“People are going to say, ‘Well, I don’t really like Anita Saradons behaviour, so why should I be allowed to voice my opinion on her behaviour?’
I don`t really think that is how we’re going to win