Of Feminism, Online Threats, and Guns in Utah (Revised with Correction)

The Rude Pundit is not going to comment on Gamergate specifically. Short version: A truly fucked-up situation where female video game journalists and designers have been savagely threatened by men online for, apparently, existing. He's not going to comment because, really, there's not enough room. So read that Washington Post article that's linked to up there. It's a great primer.

Instead, let's focus in a bit on one incident that just happened because it says so much about who we are as a nation.

Blogger and media critic Anita Sarkeesian was scheduled to speak at Utah State University in Logan, Utah. Sarkeesian is a feminist, and she often talks about video gaming from that perspective. Her vlog, Feminist Frequency, is damned insightful about sexism in a big part of our culture. (Calm down there, gamers. Sexism infects movies, TV, music, comics, etc. No one is singling you out.) So, of course, she had to be stopped.

Some fuckwit wrote to USU and demanded that Sarkeesian's speech be cancelled: "I have at my disposal a semi-automatic rifle, multiple pistols, and a collection of pipe bombs. This will be the deadliest school shooting in American history and I’m giving you a chance to stop it...Anita Sarkeesian is everything wrong with the feminist woman, and she is going to die screaming like the craven little whore that she is if you let her come to USU. 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." Charming, like that creepy kid in the dorm who writes Saw fan fiction. (Bonus points: He mentioned a Montreal mass shooting in 1989, where the asshole shot up a bunch of women because feminism made him sad.)

Now chances are that this is some worthless little shit who has no guns and no bombs and, like almost every terrorist around, just needs to get laid. And Sarkeesian, who knows from worthless little shits when it comes to the online world, had said she would go ahead with her speech, but she wanted to make sure that she would be, you know, safe. And that's where society broke down.

'Cause, see, Sarkeesian didn't want people to be allowed to bring guns to her speech, which would no doubt now be packed. The USU officials said, "Well, fuck, yeah, people can bring guns" because that's how stupid a country this is. In a statement, USU explained, "During the discussion, Sarkeesian asked if weapons will be permitted at the speaking venue. Sarkeesian was informed that, in accordance with the State of Utah law regarding the carrying of firearms, if a person has a valid concealed firearm permit and is carrying a weapon, they are permitted to have it at the venue." So she cancelled the speech because while a good guy with a gun may stop a bad guy with a gun, all that bad guy has to do is get off one decent shot.

Hey, you might say, shit sucks in concealed carry states, but it's the law. And the Rude Pundit would tell you to shut the fuck up and listen for two seconds.

According to the NRA (yes, the NRA), Utah state law says, "A person with a permit to carry a concealed firearm may not carry a concealed firearm in any secure area. A secure area may be established at an airport, higher education institution, or courthouse." And, unless its name is meaningless, Utah State University would be a "higher education institution."

(Correction: What the NRA fails to mention is that "secure area" on a college campus means "hearing room." In other words, where some official procedure is occurring where things might get heated. An earlier version said that any area on campus could be "secure." This is not the case. The Rude Pundit was wrong and, because he's not an asshole, he's correcting the error. The lesson here is never trust the NRA for facts.)

Oh, and over in Salt Lake City, at the stupidly named EnergySolutions Arena, where the Utah Jazz play pro basketball, there's a weapons policy: "For the safety of all our guests, firearms, knives and weapons of any kind are prohibited inside EnergySolutions Arena. Any guest presenting a game or event ticket consents to a reasonable search for weapons of any kind before entering. Failure to comply with the above conditions will result in no admittance or ejection." You even have to pass through a metal detector because it just makes fucking sense.

So, in fact, Utah is regularly preventing people from carrying their firearms into various places. But mostly the law is insane, especially as regards college campuses. It's startling that no one would look at this situation and think, "Huh. Maybe letting people secretly carry guns all over the fuckin' place is a bad idea." And you can hardly fault Sarkeesian for saying, "Yeah, fuck this."

Why not make this a raging post about Gamergate? Why not call the attackers nasty names and demand they stop? Because they won't. Because the anonymity of online world and the way that is used to threaten sexual violence against women, many, many women, not just those who would dare enter the geekdome, makes it too easy for the attackers.

And that demands that we see this in the widest sense possible, not just as part of the gamer world. Because ultimately what needs to be defended is the freedom for women to speak. And it's not just someone threatening to gut a woman or stab her in the tits or rape her in front of her children. It's gotten to where addresses are published online and lives are sent into chaos, just because a woman dares to say that women should be treated fairly. Christ, talk for two seconds to any woman who posts anything online on just about any subject in an open forum, like Twitter. Too many men view it as a chance to throw a bomb at a vagina they can't control.  They must be silenced before they get too much power.

Here's some advice, guys, one man to another: If you're so worried about what feminists are saying, if you are so threatened by their words that you would write rape and murder fantasies about them, then your problem isn't feminism.