The petition win is all over the media right now: on ABC News, news.com.au, Sunrise, Guardian Australia, Herald Sun, even reaching international outlets like AP, Forbes, UK’s Telegraph newspaper and others!
This is a huge win. For years, games like Grand Theft Auto have got away with this in-game misogyny and sexual violence.
It’s games like this that normalise rape and sexual violence. You’ve helped send a message to family retailers and brands that their consumers have had enough, and they’ve started listening.
We’re now asking outlets like Big W and Woolworths whether they’re going to stand up against Grand Theft Auto’s violence against women as well.
Yesterday on its Facebook page, White Ribbon wrote: “Target & Kmart have taken Grand Theft Auto V off the shelves. What are your thoughts?” With the question they posted a negative piece from a gaming site about the response of these corporates to our campaign (they posted no neutral or positive pieces). This was my response late last night:
Melinda Tankard Reist: What are OUR thoughts? Like you can’t actually take a stand on this yourselves? And you post a negative piece about the Change.org petition written by three women survivors of violence? You have nothing to say about the mainstreaming and normalising of violence against women, about treating the abuse of women as a game and as entertainment, about the importance of corporate social responsibility and ethical business leadership? We have often asked your support on campaigns and get nothing. Why are you in this for? What do you actually represent? Many of us – including women survivors of violence – are asking this question.
This morning White Ribbon has posted this:
White Ribbon believes that all forms of violence are wrong and we do not condone any form of entertainment that features violence against women. Thank you for sharing your opinions with us about Grand Theft Auto V – open conversation is the first step to raising awareness of men’s violence against women and changing people’s attitudes and behaviours.
We are in discussion with leaders in the games industry about this issue, and the broader issues of violence against women and the representation of women, as we have with the sports industry. This is an ongoing and long-term discussion that we have been engaged in for a while now. Achieving change is a long process and is most effective when we work together.
GTAV ‘discourages violence against women’ claims SMH journalist on The Drum.
Very disappointed with the coverage of GTAV, Change.org petition of 45,000 signatures and Target and Kmart response on ABC The Drum last night. (view from 18:00).
Did you see it? SMH journalist Kate McClymont quoting gamers against actual survivors of violence against women who wrote the petition. She said of the game “It’s actually discouraging violence against women.” And Paul Bongiorno saying it may have been a “stunt” and commenting on the“amazing graphics”. Couldn’t the producers find someone who actually knew what they were talking about? I expected more than this poor quality coverage.
This is how GTAV discourages violence against women
‘They referred to their abuse as a game’
Anita Sarkeesian speaks about her experience of online harassment and cyber mobs. It’s two years old but a must see.
This message from a special fan landed in my public profile Facebook inbox this morning. I won’t include his name, as he would probably enjoy that too much.
You are a dickhead. You fk’n leso feminist. I bloody hate u bitch. You always have something to say. I bet you think “Playgirl” with pictures of men in porn magazines is all okay but when it’s women, it’s taboo as far as you are concerned. You have obviously had a very sheltered life. I would guess that I am not the only one who hates you. It is fair enough if women’s heads are photoshopped onto models bodies but when women SEND IN THEIR OWN PICTURES, it’s because they want to show off their bodies. They are not made or forced to do so. You have a very shallow mind bitch
It’s just one of many along these lines which come to me regularly. My friends all get them too, mostly through social media. We often compare them at the end of the day to see who got the ‘best’ one. I used to be the winner most days but now a couple of my mates are in the lead, especially those who have taken it up to the Lingerie Football League. All in a day’s work.
But it was good, just after reading the latest love letter, to come across this commentary by Van Badham on Women’s Agenda (a site I’ve only just discovered and which ran this really good piece about women and appearance). Here’s an extract but it’s worth reading the whole thing:
Whether it’s deliberate or non-self-aware, Brospherism is passive-aggressive sexism that foments social awkwardness and inflicts personal damage, because it masquerades as the instruction of colleagues whilst relying upon same old, same old sexist traditions of dismissing women’s agency and enforcing gendered standards of behaviour. You know you’re up against the Brosphere when you encounter subtly gendered language to dismiss the (unheard) sound of written women’s voices as “yelling”, “shrieking” or “shouting about nothing”. Call out this or any other kind of discursive marginalization in an online forum and you risk invoking the wrath of Brospherus Maximus, a pack-attack of mutually reinforced conclusions that the feminist doesn’t know what sexism is, that she is “over-reacting”, “over-sensitive”, “crazy”. The gender-doom of denunciation as “hysterical” is only ever one connotation away, the words “calm down” or “settle” apparently inevitable, while substantive content of whatever comment made by a woman displeased the original Bro is ignored in favour of a defensive schooling in how feminists who criticize sexist behaviour just can’t, um, engage criticism. Read more here.
US Rapper Tyler The Creator unleashes a torrent of hate on Sydney activist
By Talitha Stone
I’m a 23-year-old psychology student from Sydney and in June this year, I was subjected to a horrific torrent of abusive tweets from fans of touring American rapper Tyler Okonma. I challenged Okonma’s lyrics which encourage rape and violence against women by vocally supporting a petition on change.org that suggested he shouldn’t be playing all-age shows.
At Tyler’s concert in Sydney the next day, he told his fans he hoped my children got STDs, and “dedicated” songs to me that included lyrics like “punch a bitch in her mouth just for talkin’ shit”.
The abuse started almost instantly. First a drip, then a rush, then a flood. I felt physically sick. He had 1.7 million fans, and it felt like every single one of them had some violence stored up for me – a promise to assault me, the threat that they would rape me, an expression of hatred for my life and my freedom.
It was terrifying at first, and then I started to feel totally disconnected from myself. When one of them said he was going to mutilate my body, I couldn’t comprehend that he could be talking about me. The messages were coming at such a rate I couldn’t keep up.
Tyler Okonma, aka Tyler The Creator, is a member of powerful hip-hop collective Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All (usually abbreviated to OFWGKTA or Odd Future). It’s unclear how many members are part of the collective (somewhere between 25 and 60), but its best-known members are Okonma, Earl Sweatshirt, Syd tha Kyd, Hodgy Beats and last year’s Grammy-winning breakout artist, R&B singer Frank Ocean.
As a solo artist, Okonma has released three albums, his horrorcore-style lyrics taking in subjects such as violence, rape fantasies, murder and even necrophilia.
His lyrics include:
“F— Mary in her ass.. ha-ha.. yo, I tell her it’s my house, give her a tour, In my basement, and keep that bitch locked up in my storage, Rape her and record it, then edit it with more shit”
“You call this shit rape but I think that rape’s fun, I just got one request, stop breathin”
“I wanna tie her body up and throw her in my basement, Keep her there, so nobody can wonder where her face went, (Tyler, what you doin’?) Shut the f— up, You gon’ f—in’ love me bitch, Shit, I don’t give a f—, your family lookin’ for you, wish ‘em good luck, Bitch, you tried to play me like a dummy, Now you stuck up in my motherf—in’ basement all bloody, And I’m f—in’ your dead body, your coochie all cummy, Lookin’ in your dead eyes, what the f— you want from me?”
I received threats from Okonma’s fans constantly for two weeks and I still get the odd tweet of abuse today. In a tone eerily similar to Okonma’s lyrics they sent messages like: “shut the f— up cuz if I see you on the streets I’m gonna snatch u in a alley and force this d— in you,” “how’s that for promoting rape? I’m f—ing DOING it! So watch ur back, but ur families will be first” and “you know you secretly want @f—tyler to forcibly penetrate your anal cavity”.
On the flipside I received an abundance of support from friends and family. People who read about my experience in The Sydney Morning Herald and other media outlets couldn’t believe that this kind of behaviour was being tolerated in Australia.
When I was attacked I did all the things you’re meant to do: I reported individual tweets to Twitter (after diligently filling out their long-winded forms) and was staggered to be told that tweets like this did not breach their guidelines: “f—ing waste of flesh worthless female. its girls like u who make guys want to #rape a helpless pussy like u”.
I blocked the people abusing me and then I reported it to the police, who said there was nothing they could do, other than work with Twitter. Their advice was to delete my account, and not provoke people – letting the abusers win.
After thousands of threats of rape, murder and experiences like mine, Twitter has recently announced that they’ll be rolling out a report abuse button on all platforms. That’s a great first step, but it’s kidding itself if it thinks this will solve the problems faced by myself and millions of other women right around the world. It’s also underestimating the consequences of creating a powerful global platform that is unsafe for women to share their opinions on.
Twitter’s rules and processes are badly broken. Other tweets, to other users, that Twitter has said are within their guidelines include: “I will rape you when I get the chance” and “Ur a f—ing faggot, go kill urself.” If you’re a woman who has used Twitter to talk about things that matter to you, chances are you’ve had a similar experience. Chances are, even if you report each and every abusive, threatening tweet, many of them will be OK’d by Twitter and the abuse will continue.
Twitter has significant power, and is playing an important role in world affairs – but it’s facing a critical moment. The people who run Twitter, like Del Harvey, Twitter’s head of trust and safety, need to realise that the platform must enable people to talk about the things that matter to them without facing a torrent of threats and abuse.
I’ve joined a global petition to get Twitter to stop rape abuse on its platform. The campaign was inspired by Caroline Criado-Perez, a British feminist who used a petition on change.org to fight to keep a woman on banknotes in Britain. Immediately after she won that campaign, she faced the horrendous backlash of violence and threats that come to so many women who raise their heads online. The momentum from her campaign for reform is now beginning to put pressure on Twitter, and I hope an international outcry will get them to act with a comprehensive zero-tolerance policy for abuse.
Public discourse shouldn’t be something anyone should have to “learn to deal with”. Twitter can, and must, play an active role in being a positive voice among the multitude of violent tweets some of its users dish out. Twitter’s actions here can have life-saving consequences – but it needs to act, swiftly and effectively.
We are now asking Twitter Australia to meet Talitha. Support this call by tweeting at @TwitterAu and asking them to #meettalitha, who started the petition at www.change.org/twitterabuse
The price you pay for activism – but it won’t stop us
[Warning: threatening, sexually violent language]
Caitlin Roper, my fellow Collective Shout activist in the West, has put together this montage of some of the abusive and threatening tweets we receive on a regular basis. We want people to know just how bad this is. We don’t believe women who speak out on issues should be threatened like this. Police have taken no action.
…So what’s the solution? Zip our lips and refuse to engage with the lowlifes who joke about rape, commodify the female body, and portray women as morons?
Much as I sometimes would like to, I don’t believe that’s the answer. Taking the high road can’t mean simply ignoring what’s going on in our culture.
Sexism and misogyny have become joke-worthy subjects in such an insidious way that people are now failing to even identify them any more. Imagine if racist or anti-semitic ads were popping up online every other day and were defended by those calling protesters “oversensitive,” labeling any objections “political correctness gone mad’ and telling them to “get over it.” Would we be told just to turn a blind eye and not give such companies the oxygen of publicity? More likely, we’d be calling for the heads of the responsible marketing executives on a plate.
Sexists’ favored method of shutting down feminists is to call them humorless, and accuse the men who support them of being emasculated and brainwashed. Well, it’s time to stand up and say that there’s nothing deficient about not having your laughter button pressed by the degradation of women. Anyone offended by misogyny needs to keep speaking out about it, even if it runs the risk of giving the perpetrator free advertising. Plus, there is such a thing as bad publicity-or Rush Limbaugh wouldn’t have shed 50+ advertising sponsors after recent online outrage at his misogyny.
Reputations can certainly be tarnished, and refusing to keep quiet about sexist advertising can achieve that. Read full article here
For some it seems, there is a difference between rape, and you know, rape rape.
If the latest debacle involving a UK sports ‘hero’ found guilty of rape can tell us anything, it’s that rape is when a slutty, drunk chick totally has it coming. This kind of rape shouldn’t be taken seriously because, well, she’s drunk and the guy was just having a bit of fun.
Rape rape though is when a sober woman dressed head-to-toe in white is viciously attacked while leaving church by a man with a thick moustache and twitching eye. This man is clearly a rapist, and this woman is clearly innocent (not like that slutty chick, am I right?).
Wales and Sheffield United professional footballer, Ched Evans, was sentenced to five years in jail after being found guilty of rape. The basic premise is that last year in May, a young intoxicated woman went back to a hotel room with Evans’ teammate, Clayton McDonald. She and McDonald had intercourse, and soon after Evans arrived and McDonald left.
This is when Evans is said to have had intercourse with the young woman, while two friends had the audacity to film it through a window.
The victim claimed to have no memory of the night, and with the assistance of CCTV footage showing just how intoxicated she was before the incident, the jury found that the 19-year-old was in no state to be able to consent to sexual intercourse. McDonald was acquitted and Ched was found guilty.
However, sometimes the law is not enough to quench the thirst of a troll; because although the jury found the 19-year-old’s accusation to be legitimate, she is now facing trial by Twitter.
It started with Evans’ teammate, Connor Brown, posting a series of vicious tweets on the micro blogging site. He called her a “money-grabbing little tramp,” and eloquently added, ““If ur a slag ur a slag don’t try get money from being a slag (sic) … Stupid girls… I feel sick.”
This was just the beginning. London Feminist, in a post titled ‘Rape Culture in up to 140 characters’, kept track of the #chedevans Twitter trend and found that a disturbing number people don’t seem to understand exactly what rape is.
Here are just a few.
“Curious to find out more about the #chedevans rape conviction. Not premeditated but locked away for 5 years for lack of consent.”
“Read up on the laws as well now! I change my mind! Seems that it is rape after all! #chedevans”
“Baffled by the #ChedEvans case. You convict both men or neither! How can there be any evidence if the silly bitch can’t remember anything?”
“If nailing a tramp who is too wankered to say no is a crime….. then the old bill need to get down to mine with a set of cuffs. #ChedEvans”
But here’s the thing: rape is non-consensual sex, and a woman being drunk does not and should not exempt rapists from the law. We could question how one man was sentenced to jail and how the other wasn’t, but Senior Crown Prosecutor in Wales, Nita Dowell, lays out the facts.
“Ched Evans took advantage of a vulnerable young woman who was in no fit state to consent to sexual activity. It is a myth that being vulnerable through alcohol consumption means that a victim is somehow responsible for being raped. The law is clear: being vulnerable through drink or drugs does not imply consent.”
Well said. Now if someone could just pass that on to the Twitter trolls.
Jane Hollier is completing a Media degree at Charles Sturt University.
‘ Women are supposed to be sexual objects, we’re still not supposed to be thinking, feeling, complex human beings. It is due to the continual representation of women as just beauties, the attempt to reduce women to a surface on which we project sexuality. So we’re not real people’.
The electronic vilification of Australian women writers and activists – including myself – was documented in June by Christine Jackman writing in the Weekend Australian Magazine. You can read Jackman’s piece ‘War of Words’ here.
Now the issue has been taken up globally, as told in this important piece just published in The Guardian.
I hope women writers and commentators will hold firm and not allow the trolls and haters to win. Hopefully this latest piece will be the beginning of more support for and solidarity between women who choose to speak out.
Crude insults, aggressive threats and unstinting ridicule: it’s business as usual in the world of website news commentary – at least for the women who regularly contribute to the national debate.
The frequency of the violent online invective – or “trolling” – levelled at female commentators and columnists is now causing some of the best known names in journalism to hesitate before publishing their opinions. As a result, women writers across the political spectrum are joining to call for a stop to the largely anonymous name-calling.
The columnist Laurie Penny, who writes for the Guardian, New Statesman and Independent, has decided to reveal the amount of abuse she receives in an effort to persuade online discussion forums to police threatening comments more effectively. Read more
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