Portrait of A Hater
After the Tropes Vs. Women Kickstarter had been successfully funded, the tone of the harassment took an ugly turn. A game turned up on NewGrounds, created by someone known by the Twitter handle @Bendilin (real name: Ben Spurr), that encouraged visitors to “beat up this bitch”. Why?
Well, in Ben Spurr’s words:
Anita Sarkeesian has not only scammed thousands of people out of over $160,000, but also uses the excuse that she is a woman to get away with whatever she damn well pleases. Any form of constructive criticism, even from fellow women, is either ignored or labelled to be sexist against her.
She claims to want gender equality in video games, but in reality, she just wants to use the fact that she was born with a vagina to get free money and sympathy from everyone who crosses her path.
Now before we get into Ben “@bendilin” Spurr and why he thought that this was somehow a good idea, let’s parse this statement a little.
“Anita Sarkeesian has not only scammed thousands of people out of over $160,000…”
This has been a common theme in the hate sites and criticism of Sarkeesian following the completion of the Kickstarter fund. The criticism seems to be based around the fact that her project ended up receiving a significant overfund. A number of haters have accused her of being greedy and asking for far more than she needs for “just a YouTube series”, having determined the “proper” budget for such a project via… magic, one assumes.
Strangely, I don’t recall this level of criticism being leveled when Tim Schafer’s endeavor exceeded it’s funding goals by three million dollars. But hey, Tim Schafer and DoubleFine are beloved members of the gaming industry so it’s understandable that people might want to throw money at them. The only possible reason that someone might want to give Sarkeesian money is because she bewitched them with her feminine wiles! Clearly the only reasons someone might want to donate would be either because a) sympathy or b) they want to fuck her. As opposed to, say, trolls just like Mr. Spurr ended up bringing increased attention to the project and – shock! horror – those people might just want to see the finished product.
“…but also uses the excuse that she is a woman to get away with whatever she damn well pleases.”
This is something one sees a lot amongst Men’s Rights Advocates, but rarely with anything to back it up. In this case, it’s unclear exactly what Sarkeesian has done that she is “getting away with” other than having a greater-than-expected fundraising windfall.
“Any form of constructive criticism, even from fellow women, is either ignored or labelled to be sexist against her.”
Another common complaint, although once again, it seems to be stemmed from the fact that she either ignores the haters (more on this in a second) or the fact that most of the criticism levied against her falls squarely in the 3 Ds of arguing. While there could in theory be a reasonable debate held over Tropes Vs. Women, a) it hasn’t been released yet, which makes any debate speculative at best and decidedly premature and b) most of the “constructive criticism” involves men calling her a “fucking bitch cunt whore.”
“She claims to want gender equality in video games, but in reality, she just wants to use the fact that she was born with a vagina to get free money and sympathy from everyone who crosses her path.”
Now after the Beat Up Anita Sarkeesian game showed up (and was later taken down) on NewGrounds, blogger and activist Steph “AmIRightFolks” Guthrie tracked down Ben Spurr via his twitter handle @bendilin and engaged him in conversation (and an Internet name-and-shame campaign).
To give you some context to the conversation, allow me to quote to you from Ben Spurr’s Steam profile:
Can’t a ~*GaMeR GuY*~ game in peace without some obnoxious durrgurrl begging to flirt with him every time he tries to go online?
I think it’s just adorable how absolutely no girls are any good at video games, just like how no woman has ever written a good novel. They are nothing but talk and no action, probably because girls are such emotional creatures and base everything they do on their current feelings and then try to rationalize their actions later. How pathetic.
You know what’s priceless? When a gamer girl posts a pic of herself looking as slutty as possible and then throws a fake fit when people talk to her like she’s a whore. What did you think was going to happen, you dumb broad? Lose thirty pounds.
So first question: how does Ben feel about actual violence against women?
So why did Ben create this game?
Because nothing says “valid criticism of somebody’s work” likepunching them in the face. Couldn’t you have, I dunno, tried talking like a normal human being?
Oh. How dare she ignore him? BEN SPURR WILL NOT BE IGNORED, ANITA!
But wait! Let’s be clear here: Ben Spurr created a game threatening her with violence and inviting others to – his words – beat up the bitch – wanted to get a response?
Hang on… threatening someone with violence so a woman will finally pay attention to you. Why does that sound familiar?
Now, I’m not terribly crazy over Steph Guthrie leading an Internet mob, replete with virtual torches and pitchforks, after Ben. Calling someone out by name and making sure folks know exactly what he did and why is one thing, sic’ing the Internet after ’em for retribution is another entirely… and entirely too close to the initial “shut the bitch up!” campaign that Anita Sarkeesian underwent for my tastes. Internet mob justice tends to take on a life of its own and rarely sticks to just one target… or even the correct target in the first place.
That being said, it’s hard to fault her for calling Ben out and making sure that he’s known as the author of one of the most disgusting examples of misogynistic harassment I’ve seen in quite some time. Ben Spurr is a prototypical example of the haters – someone who wants a right to vent his vitriol all over the place without facing up to the consequences of his actions. The bulk of his Twitter feed (which is, at the time of this writing, suspended) is alternately attempts to defend what he did as not misogynistic and using false equivalence to justify what he did as “criticism” rather than intimidation and threats. Because, y’know, he’s totes not sexist ya’ll.
Except for that whole “lose weight bitches, ya’ll are worthless sluts” thing.
Of course, this being the Internet, Steph Guthrie is also facing blowback for “outing” Ben Spurr as the author of Beat Up Anita Sarkeesian game. The Internet Hate Machine stirred itself into life and started harassing her for daring to “talk shit” about men.
(More can be found here)
Rather understandably, these were reported to the police. And just as predictably, the haters and trolls promptly started insisting that Guthrie was over-reacting and what was “obviously” copy-pasta from some obscure meme couldn’t possibly be taken seriously as a threat. Wash, rinse, repeat. This has happened before and it will happen again.