While most internet users have experienced or seen some level of trolling (online harassment), many trolls have a fixation on women, particularly those who dare to enter spaces that are slowly shifting away from domination by white, heterosexual males.
One major target of this specific trolling is media critic and Feminist Frequency creator Anita Sarkeesian , whose award-winning video series analyzes women’s representation in popular culture.
Last month at Portland ‘s XOXO Festival , Anita shared some of the misogynist harassment she has faced, from rape to death threats.
She also exposed two more subtle forms of harassment tactics “that are commonly used to try and silence and discredit women but are not as easily identifiable as misogynist harassment: conspiracy theories and impersonation.”
“What I’ve described to you today is not unique to me and my experience. Every day, many women voicing their opinions online deal with a similar flood of slander and defamation designed to undermine their careers, their credibility, their resolve, and their confidence.”
Purposeful misinformation such as fake tweets, forum posts, quotes and reports spread like social media wildfire from Reddit and 4chan to Twitter, Tumblr, and Youtube to support some pretty wild conspiracy theories about Anita.
“For these detractors, it is easier to believe that I’m a skin-bleaching, mind-controlling, video game-hating scam artist involved in a masterful long con, than it is to believe that the tide is turning in gaming, and that larger numbers of developers and fans are challenging the sexist status quo and embracing the ideas and critiques expressed in my work and the work of many other women doing the same work in cultural criticism.”
Describing 4Chan as “a cyber cesspool functioning as an incubator for misogyny,” Anita says that the best and “most radical” way to support women online is “to actually believe women when they talk about their experiences.”