In one of his most recent videos, titled “I HATE ANITA SARKEESIAN – Stand Up Comedy,” Sousa takes off his pants and starts thrusting his pelvis at a screenshot of Sarkeesian’s face, repeating “Suck my dick, bitch.” Later, he begins addressing Sarkeesian directly: “Fuck you! Fuck you!”
Well ok then… needless to say, I’ll be skipping his videos. Anyway, Kotaku called him the “Sarkeesian hater that everyone hates,” because even GamerGaters have turned their back on him. Yes, Sakeesian hating GamerGaters outed another hater him in a misguided effort to show that their movement isn’t all about harassing women. I guess they think scapegoating him somehow proves he is the one and only person among their ranks engaging in such hateful behavior (uh huh, suuuuuuure).
What really sparked my interest in writing about this however was one paragraph near the end of the story. In it the writer asks: “…how much influence has the atmosphere of Gamergate had over someone like Sousa?” After which he reasons:
“Death threats on the Internet have existed since mankind figured out that computers could connect to one another, and Sousa has been waging his war against feminist critics for over a year now, but it’s not exactly preposterous to suggest that these recent events might have egged him on…”
Well I’m here to say there’s no “might have” about it. GamerGate has been not only a driving force for Sousa and other like him, but also a safe harbor and welcoming community for them operate from.
The relationship between Sousa and the GamerGate movement is the perfect example of what feminists, including my anti-violence colleagues and I, have been stressing for decades when talking about rape culture and the importance of bystander intervention. Oddly enough, I even mentioned this same phenomenon on the Polygamer Podcast last week with my friend Ken Gagne (it went live a day before the Kotaku piece). If you’ll allow me to paraphrase myself for a minute, in the podcast I said; many of those committing GamerGate’s worst offenses probably aren’t even affiliated with GamerGate (or are even gamers), much like most of those rioting after a city’s sports team wins a championship aren’t even fans of the team, let alone the sport. Which isn’t to let other GamerGaters off the hook or suggest plenty members of the movement aren’t committing much of the harassment themselves. No, what I’m saying is that men with proclivities toward violent behavior find organizations, groups and movements full of people who espouse attitudes and beliefs that minimize and degrade those they wish to target, then they use those groups as safe harbor for their acts. If the group is already engaging in violent acts like harassment and bullying or worse, then even better. GamerGate has been about hating women and trying to exclude them from the gaming space since day one, which is exactly why it attracted men like Sousa from the start and has become their movement.
Sousa flat-out admits it himself when he says, “I’m not part of GamerGate movement, despite agreeing with it.” He may not identify as a member, but he sure is happy to harass alongside them and in their name. Like many in their movement, I’m sure he couldn’t give two shits about “ethics in gaming journalism.” No, what he agrees with is the rampant misogyny and anti-feminism that is at the heart of GamerGate (despite their flaccid claims otherwise). And what he found was a group of people engaging in harassment and bullying in the same way he enjoys. In short, GamerGaters cannot distance themselves from people like Sousa. He is among them and he is one of them, so holding him up as a scapegoat isn’t going to cut it. The movement’s misogyny runs deeper than one man.
If you’re a person who doesn’t want to be associated with people like Sousa or a movement that’s slowly asphyxiating on its own bile, then it’s time to follow the advice of Sarkeesian when she said: “If you are not a horrible human being, get out of #gamergate now.” It’s not a final answer, but its a start. Sadly, it won’t rid the world of men like Sousa, but it will remove at least one of their safe spaces and expose them for who they really are.
So, to any non-horibble human beings currently affiliated with GamerGate who are reading this… what do you say? Now is the time to jump ship and leave the diseased rats you’ve laid with to drown. Will you?