Jul 12, 2013

The Positive Power of Misogynist Trolls

Remember back last year when Rush Limbaugh called Sandra Fluke a slut and turned her overnight into a superstar women's rights activist? (A year later, the controversy is still dogging his career.) It occurs to me that this is almost the same thing that happened to Anita Sarkeesian, the feminist video game critic. Jim Sterling shows how:


Of course it's terrible to be called a slut, or be threatened with rape, assault, or murder. I wouldn't wish that on anyone. But it's pretty striking how what used to be a tried-and-true tactic of enforcing existing hierarchies—aggressive slurs and threatening violence—often tends to backfire spectacularly.

I'd add by the way that contrary to Jim's expectations Anita's video series actually turned out pretty well. The production values especially skyrocketed from the massive pile of outrage money she pulled down:


If anything, I'd say the video could have benefited from being more aggressively feminist. It's fun to watch people like Jim and his colleague Yahtzee Croshaw with really bold points of view, even if they go off the rails sometimes. Of course that's yet another set of tangled gender prejudices, but given that Anita is already in troll hell, she'd have little to lose.

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