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Game developer Zoe Quinn is the latest target of the Great Internet Lady Harassment Machine

zoequin
Zoe Quinn

Sometimes it seems like the internet, or at least huge portions of it, is essentially a giant harassment machine, directed primarily at women.

This week, the target of the Great Internet Lady Harassment Machine is game developer Zoe Quinn. Quinn, best known as the creator of the text-based Depression Quest, faced down two previous waves of harassment from gamer dudes who were angry about her game, for some gamer-dude reasons I can’t claim to understand, and who grew even angrier after Quinn spoke publicly about being harassed.

Her harassers claimed that she was lying about being harassed previously, and apparently figured there was no better way to prove that she hadn’t been harassed in the first place than by harassing her about her claims of harassment. I’m sorry if that’s confusing, but the “logic” of internet assholes tends to be a bit circular.

The latest wave of harassment is on a whole new level of viciousness. Because this time her haters have what they see as proof that she is indeed the evil [insert favorite anti-woman slur] that they’ve always claimed her to be. Their alleged smoking gun consists of a series of excruciatingly detailed blog posts by a vengeful ex-boyfriend describing how she allegedly cheated on him and lied about it; at roughly 10,000 words in all, not counting all the screenshots of online conversations presented as proof of his claims, his story is nearly the length of a novella.

You might ask: why is any of this any of our business? It’s fucking not. Some have tried to claim this is about “ethics,” accusing Quinn of trading sexual favors for a positive game review. But the journalist she allegedly slept with never actually wrote a review of her game.

Of course this has nothing to do with any real ethical concerns on the part of her attackers. As Quinn has pointed out herself, the people who are gleefully sharing her personal information, posting nude pictures of her, sending her threats, and otherwise trying to destroy her life don’t have any fucking ethics.

No, this is just another excuse to go after an outspoken woman on the internet, and a chance for misogynistic gamer dudes to score a symbolic victory against any and all women who are trying to enter what these guys want to see as a clubhouse where girls aren’t allowed. Anita Sarkeesian has been dealing with the same sort of shit ever since she first set out to examine sexism in the gaming world.

I honestly don’t have the psychic energy to collect together examples of the horrible shit people are saying about her; just type her name into Google along with your favorite anti-woman slur and you’ll have more proof than you need. Or go to Reddit and make your way to any of the numerous subreddits devoted to gaming and/or misogyny, where many people will be thrilled to tell you all about how “the video game industry is being fucked over because of these women.” (Actual quote.)

Quinn has said all I think she needs to say about this in an eloquent blog post of her own. Here’s a portion of it:

I am not going to link to, or address anything having to do with the validity of the specific claims made by an angry ex-boyfriend with an axe to grind and a desire to use 4chan as his own personal army. This is not a “she-said” to his “he-said”. The idea that I am required to debunk a manifesto of my sexual past written by an openly malicious ex-boyfriend in order to continue participating in this industry is horrifying, and I won’t do it. It’s a personal matter that never should have been made public, and I don’t want to delve into personal shit, mine or anyone else’s, while saying that people’s love and sex lives are no one’s business. I’m not going to talk about it. I will never talk about it. It is not your goddamned business.

What I *am* going to say is that the proliferation of nude pictures of me, death threats, vandalization, doxxing of my trans friends for having the audacity to converse with me publicly, harassment of friends and family and my friends’ family in addition to TOTALLY UNRELATED PEOPLE, sending my home address around, rape threats, memes about me being a whore, pressures to kill myself, slurs of every variety, fucking debates over what my genitals smell like, vultures trying to make money off of youtube videos about it, all of these things are inexcusable and will continue to happen to women until this culture changes. I’m certainly not the first. I wish I could be the last.

Because I’ve had a small degree of success in a specific subculture, every aspect of my life is suddenly a matter of public concern. Suddenly it’s acceptable to share pictures of my breasts on social media to threaten and punish me. Suddenly I don’t have any right to privacy or basic dignity. Suddenly I don’t get to live out normal parts of life, like going through a bad and ugly breakup in private. I have forfeited this by being a blip in a small community, while those who delight in assailing me hide behind their keyboards and a culture that permits it, beyond reproach.

My life and my body are not public property. No one’s life and body are public property.

Sexuality is one of the most personal, hurtful, and easy things to demonize a woman over, and also has nothing to do with my games. Yet large swaths of the gaming community are either unable or unwilling to separate the two. I’m convinced that my ex chose 4chan as the staging ground for his campaign of harassment and character assassination because he knew this; he knew that someone claiming to be “from the Internet” has shown up at my house once already, and he is counting on the most reviled hubs of our community to live up to their sordid reputations. This is another example of gendered violence, whereby my personal life becomes a means to punish my professional credentials and to try to shame me into giving up my work. I’m still committed to doing my small part to create a world where no woman is at risk of experiencing this.

I don’t have anything to add.

This is a NO TROLLS, NO MRAS thread. Anyone posting any doxxing shit in the comments below, or adding to the harassment against her in any way, will be banned.

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FrieVonFrieburger
FrieVonFrieburger
8 years ago

I wish I could be surprised by this, I just can’t anymore. As if this wasn’t bad enough, it’s going to be a perfect excuse for foolish games commentators who either don’t or won’t understand what’s actually happening to grind their personal ‘I hate Social Justice Warriors’ axes.

Many gamers and game critics try very hard to change the culture of misogyny that surrounds the subject, but moments like this are reminders of what a sisyphean task that is.

BluLanturn
BluLanturn
8 years ago

Thanks for the post, I’ve been trying to parse this whole situation for days. I guess the only thing I’m concerned about or at least just confused about was the claims of sexual harassment someone made against her. I guess those were made by the same ex?

Johanna Roberts
8 years ago

Well this explains why my tumblr was on fire this morning. Holy shit. I can’t stand these tactics and I hope she’s taking everything she needs to ensure her own mental health and safety. :/

BrandonSP
8 years ago

They may not technically qualify as reviews, but Nathan Grayson DID mention Zoe and her game in a couple of articles he wrote after the alleged sex incident:

http://tmi.kotaku.com/the-indie-game-reality-tv-show-that-went-to-hell-1555599284

http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2014/01/08/admission-quest-valve-greenlights-50-more-games/

These are the articles I’ve seen cited as the ones Grayson wrote after Zoe bribed him with sex.

cloudiah
8 years ago

Everyone: Please be on the lookout for trolls/MRAs and report to David/the mods immediately! futrelle.com and/or [email protected]

On another note, even if she had slept with journalists who then wrote favorable reviews of her game… (which it appears is not what happened) … wouldn’t the ethical lapse there be on the part of the journalists?

jbgarner58
8 years ago

I have nothing to add to that wonderful summation by Quinn except to add ‘Ditto!’.

BrandonSP
8 years ago

“On another note, even if she had slept with journalists who then wrote favorable reviews of her game… (which it appears is not what happened) … wouldn’t the ethical lapse there be on the part of the journalists?”

From what I’ve read of this, even if the journalists consented, it was Zoe who bribed them in the first place. Therefore she sorta is the initiator of the wrong-doing here (assuming the allegations are true).

Luzbelitx
8 years ago

I’m glad Quinn is able to give such a magnificent reply. I think this is part of a collective learning we are engaged in, due to the GILHM. Hopefully, we will all become articulate and resistant when facing online harassment at some point in time.

Or the assholes will get tired and go home? Am I dreaming too hard?

Zolnier
Zolnier
8 years ago

Someone on an IRC channel I frequent kept posting links to that blog; I thought there was a reason it bored the shit out of me.

Nova
Nova
8 years ago

Go Zoe! You have some incredible class and dignity in dealing with this. She really said it all.

Who cares who she slept with? She’s an adult and she’s allowed to choose who she has sex with. This should be a total non issue, but… alas, misogyny is alive and well.

weirwoodtreehugger
8 years ago

I’ll bet the douchey dudebros who think any possible wrongdoing Quinn did in her personal life disqualifies her from having a career in gaming are the same people who don’t think the transgressions committed by men like Woody Allen or Roman Polanski mean one can’t enjoy their movies.

Separating the art from the artist is apparently something that goes on the long list of male privileges.

sparky
sparky
8 years ago

Wow. Just, wow.

So her big crime, the one that first put her in these asshole’s radar, was that she was a woman who made a game? And now they think it’s appropriate to harrass her?

This is just out-right pure hate right here. I hope she stays safe.

Goddamnned assholes.

BreakfastMan
BreakfastMan
8 years ago

Despite being a huge game fan, I fucking despise the gaming community. They are by far the most bigoted fan-base I have ever had the displeasure of interacting with. I used to really like posting on gaming boards at one point, but not anymore. The community is so despicable, and there are so few people who aren’t (around 95% awful stupids, only around 5% decent people). And this shit happens every other month. Anita Sarkeesian, Caroline Petit, hell, even Phil Fish. It is vile.

weirwoodtreehugger
8 years ago

From what I’ve read of this, even if the journalists consented, it was Zoe who bribed them in the first place. Therefore she sorta is the initiator of the wrong-doing here (assuming the allegations are true).

Why are you making that assumption? The sleeping their way to the top accusation is always highly gendered. I honestly can’t remember that claiming ever being made about a man. Think about the implications of what you’re assuming.

BrandonSP
8 years ago

“Who cares who she slept with? She’s an adult and she’s allowed to choose who she has sex with. This should be a total non issue, but… alas, misogyny is alive and well.”

Again, the issue is NOT that she cheated on her boyfriend, it’s that she apparently used sex to bribe certain journalists into mentioning her game in their articles (even if the articles in question didn’t technically qualify as “reviews”). If it really happened, that really is manipulative behavior.

As for the journalists’ culpability, yes, they would have also been in the wrong to go along with the ruse. Nonetheless, it’s Zoe who’s claiming to be a victim of sexism here, so she is the one who is pissing people off at the most (not that sexualized insults are ever justified).

BrandonSP
8 years ago

“Why are you making that assumption? The sleeping their way to the top accusation is always highly gendered. I honestly can’t remember that claiming ever being made about a man. Think about the implications of what you’re assuming.”

Again, I am only going by what I have read on this topic so far. The very fact that I said “assuming the allegations are true” should clearly indicate that I’m not 100% sure who has all the facts here.

hellkell
hellkell
8 years ago

Brandon, so fucking what? Even if it did happen–which it didn’t because no review from that person–does that make the shit Quinn is getting OK?

If you think it does, you can fuck right off.

Fibinachi
8 years ago

Sorry, what?

They may not technically qualify as reviews, but Nathan Grayson DID mention Zoe and her game in a couple of articles he wrote after the alleged sex incident:

http://tmi.kotaku.com/the-indie-game-reality-tv-show-that-went-to-hell-1555599284

http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2014/01/08/admission-quest-valve-greenlights-50-more-games/

These are the articles I’ve seen cited as the ones Grayson wrote after Zoe bribed him with sex.

I… but that’s… One of those is about a game show, a game show this person was on and where, in order to write about what happened on that game show, they would need to mention this person.

Were they supposed to go “And participating was Z, X Y and also [Blank]”?

The other is literally a list. Like, it’s a list, of 50 games that was just released on Greenlight. That’s it.

At least if someone’s crying conspiracy, it’d be great with slightly more substance than this. Not that that would really make harassment okay, or reasonable, or the sort of thing anyone should do, but if you’re seriously going to argue that “she slept with a journalist and he mentioned her in writing” at the very fucking least make it so it’s not literally a list of released games, where it’s 1 out of 50.

I just… what the… That’s just beyond stupid.

Fibinachi
8 years ago

“You” being the general “you”, not direct at you – Brandon. Sorry, that was unclear. I meant “you” as the “internet hivemind”

sparky
sparky
8 years ago

Nonetheless, it’s Zoe who’s claiming to be a victim of sexism here, so she is the one who is pissing people off at the most (not that sexualized insults are ever justified).

What? So being called gendered slurs, harrassed, doxxed, having nude pictures being spread around the Internet, rape threats and death threats doesn’t make her a “victim of sexism?”

This is over the line.

BrandonSP
8 years ago

“Brandon, so fucking what? Even if it did happen–which it didn’t because no review from that person–does that make the shit Quinn is getting OK?”

Again, the allegation is not necessarily that anyone wrote a REVIEW of her game. I already provided links to the articles people are claiming were written after she bribed Grayson. They are not really reviews of the game in question, but they do draw attention to it by mentioning it.

But yes, the sexualized insults that Zoe has received are crude, over-the-top, and of course sexist.

cloudiah
8 years ago

Again, the issue is NOT that she cheated on her boyfriend, it’s that she apparently used sex to bribe certain journalists into mentioning her game in their articles

@Brandon, I think by “apparently” you mean “allegedly but without any proof.” Unless you have proof that you just aren’t providing.

More importantly, even if she is a manipulative, terrible person (which I have no opinion about either way; I don’t know her), the point is that NO ONE DESERVES TO BE SHIT ON LIKE THIS. PEOPLE SHOULDN’T HAVE TO BE IMMACULATE ANGELS TO AVOID BEING DOXXED AND HARASSED ON THE INTERNET BY 4CHAN AND MRAS.

Bina
8 years ago

Every so often, I get to wondering why I’m not a gamer. And then I read something like this, and it all comes back to me. Being a woman on the internet, in general, is to be exposed to misogyny and hateful commentary on the regular. Even conservative Anglican ministers’ wives have had to deal with it. And this for expressing the most modest, harmless opinions possible. If you are a female of any description, being visible and having something to say for yourself is just too much for some guys. So they have to put you in “your place” in the crudest and most frightening ways imaginable.

Small wonder that what Zoe Quinn describes all sounds so familiar.

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