Jun 24, 2010

[Online Harassment is not 'Harmless']

...Because sometimes, that internet troll is not 'just' an internet troll:

"John was a member of my World of Warcraft guild, and someone who trolled me frequently. I recognized him instantly from the photos he had shared with the guild. He was misogynist who had been at odds with me for months; he’d called me derogatory names and he was absolutely enraged when I passed my trial in the guild because he believed females shouldn’t raid in what was formerly an all-male guild. Though the officers were initially hesitant to do anything about the situation, exercising their privilege to dismiss his misogyny as casual ribbing, his behavior got too far out of hand (in their opinion, not mine) that they eventually demoted him to a casual rank and he was no longer allowed to raid with them anymore because of his remarks and general attitude.

Ideally, the guild would have stripped him of his status and make attempts to correct his behavior the instant he displayed these traits, but the relaxed attitude of the officers towards misogyny and other issues of gender was common amongst the Warcraft elite. Any attempt to speak out would cause one to be shouted down for being “dramatic,” a commonly used accusation and a dismissal of misogyny as nothing more than a female’s attempt to make a big deal out of nothing, which also served to further empower the misogynists. It felt like a boy’s club, and it was.

I was young, naive and determined to not let John or anyone else ruin the game for me, so instead of finding a new guild despite the hostility I constantly faced, I simply stayed and held my ground. This action, inevitably, made John quite angry. A few nights prior, as I would learn later from interrogating guild mates, John joked to his friends on another forum that he was going to pay me a little visit to snap a few photos of where I lived and 'put me in my place.'

Apparently, John wasn’t bluffing."

This is why I get so pissed of when people dismiss or mock people who are victims of online harassment/threats (such as Kathy Sierra, Mia Rose, and Jade Raymond) for taking it seriously, because 'its just the internet'. In this day and age where so many people put their entire life's information online somewhere, it is completely appropriate to take this kind of thing seriously. Minimizing vicious verbal abuse against ANYONE (be it on a gaming guild, message board, whatever) and tolerating it is irresponsible on the part of community moderators and GMs. I know a certain amount of bigotry and harassment is considered 'normal' in many gaming communities (and is the reason why so many end up homogenous and repellant to anyone who isnt white/het/male), but as I've posted before, for some of these guys, they're not 'just joking'. They don't deserve safe spaces to spew their garbage under some disingenuous 'free speech' claim.

Related reading: 'On Being a No-name Blogger Using Her Real Name'

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