Anita Sarkeesian Forced to Cancel Speech at USU After Threats

by Sarah Thomasson

Anita Sarkeesian, an academic, video game critic and outspoken feminist, has chosen to cancel a speaking event at Utah State University (USU). Sarkeesian is the founder of a popular Youtube series and website called Feminist Frequency, a video web series that explores the representations of women in pop culture narratives. Though Sarkeesian is no stranger to graphic and violent threats, she did not feel safe going to this event. Earlier this year, she had to leave her home for safety reasons. 

Sarkeesian says she cancelled because an anonymous student at USU emailed staff members threatening a mass shooting. Apparently, this alleged student included in their email “this will be the deadliest school shooting in American history.” The emailer also threatened “I will write my manifesto in her spilled blood.”

Sarkeesian attempted to partner with the university and campus police to increase security, but they did not promise anything besides prohibiting backpacks. This also means no restriction of guns and no metal detectors, because of Utah’s open carry gun laws. Since Sarkeesian did not feel safe and was concerned about the welfare of the students, she decided canceling the event was prudent and necessary, saying:

“I feel like the organizers of previous events had my safety as a top priority and keeping me informed was a top priority. I didn’t feel that way in this case…there were other things that made me feel uncomfortable too, but allowing concealed weapons made me cancel.”

This incident is just part of a larger problem, GamerGate, the campaign with the purpose to threaten and squash any (mostly female) critics of the gaming industry. The majority of the harassment has been online, but it has recently gotten so bad over the past weeks that people are even calling for intervention from game studios and developers in order to stop the harmful and destructive behavior within the gaming community. 



Images courtesy of GameInformer and Wikipedia. 

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