Part of the fallout from the VidCon 2017 controversy involving Anita Sarkeesian directly addressing fellow YouTuber Sargon of Akkad and calling him a “garbage human” involved the VidCon organizers latching onto the controversy, apologizing to Sarkeesian, and chastising Sargon and others who showed up at her panel where he was verbally harassed.
Prior to the VidCon verdict, Sarkeesian made a post on the Feminist Frequency website [backup], claiming in the blog entry that Sargon and the other YouTubers were harassers, and showed up at VidCon 2017 to intimidate her and others. Well, in a video from VidCon 2016, just a year prior, Sarkeesian actually stated that these YouTubers weren’t actually harassers.
In the blog post regarding the VidCon incident, Sarkeesian wrote…
“Carl [Benjamin, Sargon of Akkad] is a man who literally profits from harassing me and other women: he makes over $5,000 a month on Patreon for creating YouTube videos that mock, insult and discredit myself and other women online, and he’s not alone. He is one of several YouTubers who profit from the cottage industry of online harassment and antifeminism […]
“[…] But let me make something very clear: When you have a history of harassing someone for years, and you show up in the front row at their panel with a camera and an entourage, that is not an act of good faith, to put it mildly. That is itself an act of harassment and intimidation.”
Prince Asbel cut together a video revealing that Sargon of Akkad has never endorsed harassment, and that he has always been against harassment, and even advised his users to contact the FBI if they knew someone who was harassing Sarkeesian. Absel’s video also features segments from an hour long VidCon 2016 panel where Sarkeesian blatantly states that simply making videos critical of her and other feminists was not actually harassment.
According to Sarkeesian in the 2016 panel — at around the 55 minute mark — she in some ways absolved the YouTubers themselves from being harassers, mentioning that their words aren’t actual harassment, but their followers are…
“The problem is that you make a video on YouTube and it’s not harassment, it’s just ‘this is my opinion about how this bitch is horrible.’ […] And so what happens is that maybe the content, maybe the words in the actual video are not necessarily inciting [air quotes] harassment, but they know that they have followers that are then going to come after me on all of my networks because of that video.”
Sarkeesian also goes on to explain the difference between breaking the law regarding sending threats and simply saying something that qualifies as harassment, stating…
“Breaking the law is someone saying ‘I’m going to kill you.’ [saying] ‘Someone should kill you’ is not breaking the law but it’s still harassment, right. That is the stuff that is the most common and frequent – we can’t define online harassment based on what is legal currently.”
Earlier in the panel, however, she made comments about her own role as an oppressor. You can watch the panel in full thanks to YouTuber Paul Roth.
Regarding the VidCon 2017 incident, Sarkeesian rounded out her blog piece by claiming that she was powerful and would be using her power to change the world, where she wrote…
“You’re damn right I’m powerful. After everything I’ve been put through by Carl and other men just like him, I’m still powerful enough to go out there and try to change it.”
Hence, this ties into her ultimate goal of not just discussing video games but helping to move the conversation of social justice, intersectionality and feminism into the broader sociopolitical spectrum beyond pop-culture, because it’s not just about video games. She stated…
“For me, the big picture has always been culture change, and pop culture was just a vehicle and a medium to which cultural change can happen or it can be influenced by; so it’s not actually about video games. But it’s about video games, right?”
One interesting thing that stood out in the panel from last year is that according to Sarkeesian, even she’s not immune to harboring some measure of oppression over others due to her “white privilege”, where she stated in the VidCon 2016 panel…
“Another thing is that I get accused of being white by people who want to put me into that box. And I have an incredible amount of white privilege, but my ethnicity – my race is complicated to me.[…] I oftentimes feel these markers are used to discredit me. […]
So I struggled with that little bit in how we go after groups, and how the conversation around intersectionality is, and how intersectionality is both oppression and privilege, and how those work together.”
It’s interesting how Sarkeesian just a year later changes the definition of harassment in order to get VidCon to side with her about the comments she made about Sargon of Akkad at the VidCon 2017 panel. One must question if perhaps it was her “white privilege” that allowed the chips to fall down in her favor?
(Thanks for the news tip anon)