Supernatural actress and avid gamer Felicia Day took to her Tumblr to talk about #GamerGate on Thursday and, perhaps unsurprisingly, was immediately harassed. Though #GamerGaters claim that they are policing ethics in gaming journalism, a small but loud subset of the group has lobbed misogynistic threats at women who play, create and critique games, some even making threats of murder and rape. (Here’s an explainer.)
“A small voice of doubt in my brain now suspected that [two male gamers I was passing on the street] and I might not be comrades after all,” wrote Day. “That they might not greet me with reflected friendliness, but contempt.”
Day was moved to write on the subject after feminist media critic Anita Sarkeesian came under attack. Sarkeesian, who makes videos examining misogynist tropes in video games, had to flee her home because of violent threats. Then, a week ago, she was forced to cancel a speaking engagement at Utah State University after an anonymous person sent a letter to the school administration threatening to massacre students if she spoke.
“I will write my manifesto in her spilled blood, and you will all bear witness to what feminist lies and poison have done to the men of America,” the letter read. Sarkeesian is just one of the many women targeted by #GamerGate: game developers Brianna Wu and Zoe Quinn have also had to leave their homes due to threats.
“Because of the frightening emotions and actions attached to what has happened over the last month, the events are sure to have a long-lasting affect on gaming as a culture,” Day wrote. “The fact that it has affected me, to the point where I decided to cross the street last weekend away from those gamers, was heartbreaking. Because I realized my silence on the issue was not motivated by some grand strategy, but out of fear that the issue has created about speaking out.”
But she encouraged everyone to continue gaming, even if they are harassed: “Games are beautiful, they are creative, they are worlds to immerse yourself in. They are art. And they are worth fighting for, even if the atmosphere is ugly right now.”
Just an hour after writing the post, Day was doxxed (i.e., had her private or identifying information published with malicious intent). Former NFL player Chris Kluwe pointed out the inherent sexism in the fact that #GamerGate doxxed Day but did not make his information public, even though he wrote his own post calling GamerGaters “basement-dwelling, cheetos-huffing, poopsock-sniffing douchepistols,” among dozens of other equally creative insults.
In his post, Kluwe called for #GamerGaters who disagreed with these misogynistic attacks to distance themselves from those making sexist threats by starting a new hashtag movement and condemning the old one.
Day tweeted Thursday afternoon to thank fans, feminists and gamers for their support as she has come under attack: