Content warning: This post contains very graphic language, slurs and triggering content. The following photo specifically. 

If you choose to proceed to read my blog post, I hope this opens your eyes as much as it did mine. (The posts in the following photo should be read from the bottom up.)

118AC Twitter screenshot

When I first read this Twitter thread, I got nauseous. I could not read it through entirely my first try. This is 10 messages within just 3 minutes, ranging from “I want you” to “I’m going to rape you to death” to “You’re so beautiful” to “I’m going to kill your parents.” Although intense, I chose this photo because it would negate the serious reality of this matter if I chose to post a photo that was less harsh or vulgar. The truth is, this isn’t even the worst of it.

In Lisa Nakamura’s article, “Queer Female of Color: The Highest Difficulty Setting There Is? Gaming Rhetoric as Gender Capital,” she tells the story of Aisha Tyler, an African American actress who is also well-known for her gamer status. When Tyler hosted Ubisoft’s Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in 2014, she immediately received a rush of threats online from (mainly white straight) male gamers. The individuals posting these threats are what John Scalzi would refer to as those “playing on the lowest difficulty setting.”

Kathy Sierra’s “Trouble at the Koolaid Point” was motivated by receiving online threats herself. The thing I found most interesting in her article was how nonchalantly she spoke of this issue. She mocks the ridiculousness of these threats, specifically pointing out the (literally) meaningless reasons for them to be sent in the first place (in other words, there is no reason for them at all, other than perhaps a “lowest difficulty setting” individual feeling the need to feel better about their own masculinity by putting down any female they believe doesn’t deserve the attention they are receiving).

It is true when Nakamura says that “online communities create real affective environments with real economic value,” but at what point will the progression of this environment benefit all participants? Although the online community allows for, say, groups of colored and/or homosexual women to stand strong together, it also provides a platform for, say, groups of white straight men to discharge legitimate death and/or rape threats to these same women. The Twitter account in the above photo (@femfreq) represents the former, while Kevin Dobson represents the latter, “playing on the lowest difficulty setting.”

Although these articles and incidents may not have occurred within the last year or two, these issues are just as severely problematic, if not more, than they were then. As a gay female myself, I find myself holding back a fair amount on social media in “fear” of the backlash my posts may get. Though I have not received threats online, I have received them in person, and, I can say from personal experience, this problem is very real.

I have a few questions for you, for all individuals of our generation, and for those of future generations:

  1. Whether you are a white straight male, a colored homosexual female, or anyone between, do you find it difficult to step out of your own shoes and try to understand the viewpoint of the other? If so, why do you think this is the case?
  2. Do you believe that this overwhelming amount of online harassment females encounter has increased, decreased, or remained the same throughout the past decade or so, and why? What are your thoughts on this?
  3. I believe it is up to us and the generations following to create a healthier environment online so that the generations of our daughters/nieces and granddaughters do not need to “fear” social media in any way. Do you agree or disagree? If you disagree, why? And if you agree, do you propose any solutions?
  4. Lastly, do you believe that, if the day comes where female and male harassment online is comparable, there will then come the day where online harassment towards males will overwhelm that of females?

I hope you enjoyed reading my blog. Please leave any thoughts, concerns, and comments below! Looking forward to hearing your responses.

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