Misogyny, sexism and violence in popular culture: what @jm_mcgrath and @amirightfolks said

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Right away, I’ll make it clear: I’m not a gamer. 

Stephanie got things rolling by calling out some loser for setting up an online device aimed at Anita Sarkeesian — a woman he disagreed with. His response to the disagreement and her inexplicable failure to engage in conversation with him: punch her in the face. Virtually. Ha ha. So clever. So mature.

Really, there isn’t much to say about this that hasn’t already been said, although I was particularly impressed by Emma Woolley’s essay: among other things, she argues that nobody is entitled to an audience, to engagement, to conversation, or even to attention. You can say whatever you like, no matter how ridiculous, but that doesn’t impose a corresponding obligation on anyone else to listen to you or answer you. (That resonated with me particularly because of another loser’s smear job on another friend; the said loser tried to rationalize it by arguing that he sent my friend a bunch of questions and my friend chose not to answer.)

John picks up on this in another thoughtful essay on his own site (and John, let me know when that malware thing gets straightened out so I can link to it … ). In it, he goes into some detail about the implicit assumptions surrounding whiteness and heteronormativity, and the almost instinctive resort to violence and hatred when someone’s world view or sense of entitlement is challenged. I won’t try to summarize it here, but do go and read it ASAP. 

John’s post focuses at length on the significance of online games as storytelling devices, and it’s a worthwhile look at a subculture not everyone may know about. It’s particularly instructive for its acknowledgement of privilege:

“… for many, many games there’s an unnecessary barrier between the gamer and the game … I’m a straight, white dude. And there’s almost no game I can pick up, turn on and be alienated from.”

So while I’m not a gamer, I can’t see any reason why that’s not a valid observation, and why it isn’t fodder for a worthwhile conversation. And to my knowledge, that’s the very subject Anita Sarkeesian’s trying to address. And for that, she’s been subject to a disgusting campaign of online harassment, namecalling, violent imagery, and rape threats. And god knows, she’s not the only one … 

To which I can only respond: these guys are walking proof of what Bill Maher says about right-wingers, 14-year-old boys, and being dicks.

The only other observation I’d make, and it may be a trite one, is that this kind of thing isn’t limited to gaming. At one of the first WiTOpoli panel discussions, Kristyn Wong-Tam talked about getting hateful phone calls in which she was called a cunt; while I haven’t researched this comprehensively, I’d bet money that white guys in politics or journalism or whatever aren’t targeted with similar derogatory sexualized or racialized terms. At another WiTOpoli event, another friend talked about this kind of hatred, and how it affected her reluctance to reveal herself as a woman online. 

That’s why it’s important to confront it and call it out. It’s also good to acknowledge one’s own implicit and built-in advantages, whether they’re based in gender, class, or skin colour.

Creating room for other people in the conversation demands no less.

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Chris Hedges schools Kevin O’Leary | #uspoli #OccupyWallStreet

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Big h/t to Jymn and Dr. Dawg.

Chris Hedges, who’s been cited here before, calls out Kevin O’Leary for his snide condescension, name-calling and browbeating, all the while recasting the whole notion of conservatism versus radicalism in the context of discussing the Occupy Wall Street action currently taking place in New York. Several important points about what Hedges characterizes as the criminal nature of the parasitic banking class, and how it contrasts with traditional views of capitalism and productivity. Right toward the end, Hedges turns the traditional corporate-media analysis on its head by making a trenchant observation about who the conservatives are and who the revolutionaries are.

As Jymn points out, anyone who still thinks of the CBC as a left-wing propaganda outlet ought to see this. O’Leary does his best to channel the likes of Bill O’Reilly or Sean Hannity, complete with the insults, interruptions, sneering and red herrings, and Hedges pins the Fox comparison squarely on his forehead.

If we’re interested in preserving the quality of public discourse, if we value respect and civility, we could start by taking away Kevin O’Leary’s publicly funded soapbox.

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Chris Hedges on #OccupyWallStreet | #classwarfare

The Best Among Us

Posted on Sep 29, 2011
AP / Louis Lanzano

Protesters pass Federal Hall on Wall Street in a recent march. The Occupy Wall Street protest is entering its third week in New York City as demonstrators continue to speak out against corporate greed and social inequality.

By Chris Hedges

Editor’s note: Chris Hedges’ weekly columns usually appear here on Monday mornings, but Truthdig posted this week’s edition early, on Thursday, Sept. 29, in the wake of controversy about the pepper-spraying of participants in the Occupy Wall Street protest.

There are no excuses left. Either you join the revolt taking place on Wall Street and in the financial districts of other cities across the country or you stand on the wrong side of history. Either you obstruct, in the only form left to us, which is civil disobedience, the plundering by the criminal class on Wall Street and accelerated destruction of the ecosystem that sustains the human species, or become the passive enabler of a monstrous evil. Either you taste, feel and smell the intoxication of freedom and revolt or sink into the miasma of despair and apathy. Either you are a rebel or a slave.

You can tell a lot about the power of a narrative by measuring the resources devoted to opposing, discrediting or suppressing it.