*Trigger warning: graphic threats and descriptions of violent acts*
A man in New York slashes the throat of a woman who refused to talk to him. A man in Detroit shoots and kills a woman (and injures 5 others who were with her) after she rejects his advances. A man in Pakistan boards a bus and shoots a 15-year-old girl in the head after she dares to attend school. Unidentified men use online message boards and Twitter to post graphic death and rape threats along with the addresses of two women, both of whom have been vocal critics of depictions of women in video games. Both women flee their homes out of fear for their safety. It’s tempting to believe that there’s absolutely no relationship between these events. There is.
Stick with me for a second and consider something else that may seem unrelated at first; In an abusive relationship, violence is used to establish dominance, power and control over another person. Often, physical violence isn’t actually necessary as the threat of violence alone is powerful enough to accomplish the same goals. Something else we know about abusive relationships; the violence or threat of violence, is often at its worst when the victim “talks back,” fights back, or attempts to leave. In fact, a victim of abuse is 70 times more likely to be killed after leaving their abuser than at any other time during the relationship (this statistic, by the way, is specific to female victims of abuse).
How then are abusive relationships related to the experiences listed above? Experiences women are having with men who are total strangers? Well, first we must look at these situations not as individual, unconnected instances and instead view them as part of a connected whole. From this vantage point these events are more like nodes in a larger network of interconnected acts. From this vantage point, we could argue that these events are a result of women as a whole attempting to leave an abusive relationship with patriarchy. Patriarchy meanwhile, via its ardent defenders, is attempting to maintain its dominance, power and control through threats and physical violence… even murder.
The men committing these acts aren’t simply mentally deranged individuals with knives and guns or even angry man-baby #GamerGaters with internet access and hacker skills. They’re not separate individuals lashing out in blind anger at women who are “acting like stuck up bitches” and/or challenging their favorite pastime. And the women in these cases aren’t being attacked as individuals so much as they’re enduring attacks meant for all women (#yesallwomen). These men are the foot soldiers of patriarchy using threats and deadly acts of violence in an attempt to re-establish dominance, power and control over womankind. And yes, the threats are just as effective as the violence, because women know just how easily and quickly the violence can follow.
In this context there’s not much difference between a Taliban man who shoots an eventual Nobel Prize winner in the head for daring to get an education, a random dude who shoots women and bystanders (be it in Detroit, Michigan or Isla Vista, California), or a gamergater who doxxes a woman and threatens to “rape her until she bleeds and choke her to death with her husband’s dick” for daring to critique his favorite pastime. Sure, they may live in different countries, hold different religious beliefs (or not) and their tactics may vary in deadliness, but they certainly subscribe to the same school of thought when it comes to gender relations; “women don’t belong here and any woman who challenges us will face retribution.”
In the end they’re all terrorists and they must be stopped.