The Threats Against Women on the Internet Are Witch Hunts Without the Physical Commitment

This morning, the Rude Pundit was reading about the firing of CBC radio personality and host of Q, Jian Ghomeshi, because of fucked-up rough sex stuff alleged by several women. In his reading of the investigation in the Toronto Star, he came across this: "None of the women filed police complaints and none agreed to go on the record. The reasons given for not coming forward publicly include the fear that they would be sued or would be the object of Internet retaliation." The women have every reason to fear the wrath of the trolls: "A woman who wrote an account of an encounter with a Canadian radio host believed to be Ghomeshi was subjected to vicious Internet attacks by online readers who said they were supporters of the host."

Whatever you may think about the Ghomeshi situation or the allegations (if you think about it at all), consider for a moment: Women who say they were beaten and choked, with no safe word, were afraid to go to the police because they thought that assholes on computers would berate, degrade, dox, and threaten them. And, while public shaming has always been a hindrance to women reporting sexual violence, rape, and harassment, this seems different. The plague of online threats is propagating faster and faster, going from public figures to women who write or speak their minds to women who accuse men of crimes. Whether it's the anonymity or the ease with which one can say that they will ass-fuck someone in front of her kids before killing them (see? That was simple), it's a bullshit word game that most are playing - who can most creatively put the following words into the most original order: "bitch," "cunt," "skullfuck," "my cock," "suck," "rape," and "dead." The goal is to shut these bitch-cunts up with their cocks. Or at least make them scared enough to disappear from public (and maybe even their homes). If you can get your sub-Reddit fans to upvote your threat, all the better.

The Rude Pundit spoke to some gamer friends this weekend about GamerGate; their replies ranged from "What the fuck is that?" to "Why the fuck do I care?" to "I don't read that shit." This totally unscientific poll shows that most actual gamers could give a shit less about anything but the quality of the next GTA. GamerGate has become notorious because it has ensnared so many people in its talons because, depending on who you ask, chicks suck at making or writing about games or "ethics in gaming journalism." As for the latter, seriously, if you're spending your energy trying to hound into silence unethical journalists, maybe you could head over to the Fox "news" website for a while and use your superpowers of anonymous tweeting to take down someone who actually harms the nation.

If, by the way, you really think GamerGate is about anything other than degrading feminist writers, you should probably look at the statistics and find a new movement to be a part of.

Essentially, what's going on here are witch hunts, not in the McCarthyism sense, but in the Salem and Early Modern Europe sense. Argue if you want over what caused the witch hunting madness, but the ultimate goal of the torture and execution of primarily women (yes, there were some men) was to keep women in their place. Independent women were targeted, especially women who had some financial means to live on their own. They were accused by men and women. If a woman was particularly sexual, either in appearance or action, she was targeted.

What we have now is a variation on that. Women who piss off a certain group of (generally) men are subject to virtual burnings (yeah, yeah, the witch trials ended in hangings, mostly). It's all the fun of witch hunts without the effort of having to get out of your chair and physically carry a torch. Both the virtual and actual witch hunts come from the same cowardly place: the fear that the world is changing and you need to try to stop it. Oh, and if you can impress your friends on 8Chan with your way-cool insult of some cunt, all the better.

Whether it's that women get to create, play, and critique games or women would dare to say that their sex was nonconsensual, old gender orders will be disrupted. And there will always be men there trying to maintain their power. Perhaps the time has come to ask who is really a cunt: the woman trying to give a speech or the man who threatens to shoot the place up if she speaks. Take your time.

The witch hunts stopped eventually in Europe. Of course, it took about three centuries.