Shadow of Woman on Wall

The brutal rape and assault of an adult performer has revitalized Gamergate—for better or for worse.

On Jan. 19, three teenage males broke into the home of a Las Vegas family, robbing the house and brutally sexually assaulting a woman while her two children were sleeping in the next room.

The victim of this assault was an extremely well-known adult performer, who was popular in the late ’90s and early aughts. (Due to the sensitive nature of this article, her name is redacted). Now, the adult industry is stepping up to support this performer, along with an unlikely and controversial ally: Gamergaters, thanks in large part to a video and cam show fundraising campaign spearheaded by adult performer and Gamergate supporter Mercedes Carrera.

According to My News 3, the robbery and home invasion took place the night of Jan. 19, when three male teens forced their way into a Las Vegas home by holding a male resident at gunpoint. The report said that an adult woman sleeping in a bedroom with two children was awakened by the noise:

“One of the assailants pushed through the door into her bedroom and put a gun to her head… He repeatedly questioned her: ‘Where is the safe, bitch? Where is the money? Where is the gold?’” 

After stealing her valuables, the three assailants sexually assaulted her repeatedly before driving away.

Three suspects have since been arrested in connection with the attack: Qumaire Rainey, 18, Casey Franks, 16, and Edward London, 17. According to KLAS-TV Las Vegas, all three men will be charged as adults, and could potentially face life in prison.

Although My News 3 and other local news outlets did not identify the victim in the story, the adult industry blog The Real Porn Wiki Leaks identified her as the former porn performer in question. The performer has also informed her fans of the attack and thanked them for their support on Twitter (NSFW).

Following the assault, fellow adult performer Joclyn Stone set up a YouCaring fundraiser page for the performer, who is reportedly unable to work and is terrified of leaving the house following the incident. To date, the page has raised a little more than $8,000 of its $10,000 goal.

But few outside the adult community knew about the brutal assault or what had happened to the performer until Sunday, when adult performer Mercedes Carrera posted a vlog about the incident on her YouTube channel.

In the video, Carrera expresses sympathy for the performer and vows to donate the proceeds of her cam shows to her fundraiser, before launching into a diatribe about the lack of mainstream media attention her story has garnered. In her 11-minute clip, she lambasts, among other things, Gamergate critics, the coverage of the UVA rape story, and feminists like Anita Sarkeesian, who she said turn a blind eye to the abuse of sex workers.

“What really fucking bothers me is that for the last two months, I have sat by in Gamergate and watched false faux victims utilize the world for their own personal and profit aims claiming victimhood,” Carrera said in the video, referring in part to Sarkeesian, who she said did not respond to a request to donate to the performer’s fundraising campaign. “Here you have a woman who’s a real victim of a real rape and a real assault and those same women who claim they care about women’s rights have done nothing.”

Carrera also takes aim at modern feminism in general. “This is why I’m so pissed at modern feminists: They claim to care about women, but when there are actually women in need, radio fucking silence. They don’t give a shit about anybody but themselves.”

Since Carrera posted the video, it’s appeared multiple times on r/videos, and has garnered more than 30,000 views. Donations to the former adult performer’s campaign have doubled overnight, from nearly $3,500 Sunday to $8,000 as of this writing. Last night, the adult performer herself also released a video thanking people for their support and donations.

Much of the support for the campaign has come from those within the Gamergate movement, which purports to campaign on behalf of ethics in journalism. “[Carrera] is completely right, all the so called female professionals in gaming that complain about being harassed have no idea what it’s like and abuse it for personal gain,” one redditor wrote on the thread for the video. “All the while [they are] completely ignoring the true victims as that doesn’t fit their agenda.”

Those who oppose Gamergate, however, have publicly lambasted the video, accusing Carrera of exploiting the adult performer’s personal tragedy for the benefit of the Gamergate movement. On Monday afternoon, shortly after Carrera’s vlog post went viral on Reddit, Daily Beast blogger and Gamergate critic Arthur Chu tweeted the following:

Ostensibly an online movement calling for ethics in journalism, Gamergate members have been criticized for, among other things, failing to have any unifying goals and espousing the harassment of female gamers on social media, particularly those who are critical of the movement.

Many of the women who’ve spoken out against Gamergate have faced abuse, constant harassment on social media, and death threats. Sarkeesian, who is mentioned in Carrera’s video as an example of a “false faux victim,” has had to cancel personal appearances after receiving death threats, and game developer Briana Wu, a vocal Gamergate critic, had to flee her house for the same reason.

A former aerospace engineer who has been in the adult industry for six months, Carrera is a sex worker advocate and a vocal proponent of the Gamergate movement. Last month, she made headlines for founding the Porn Charity, a charitable organization that offers a merit-based STEM scholarship to eligible students.

In December, she came under fire when disabled gamers from charity organization AbleGamers declined funds she had raised via a cam show, which they suspected was connected to Gamergate. AbleGamers was the target of a DDoS attack shortly afterward. (In a phone conversation with the Daily Dot in December, Carrera denied that the cam show was related to Gamergate, or that she played a role in the attack.)

For her part, Carrera said that she was inspired to help fundraise for the adult performer after reading about her story on The Real Porn Wiki Leaks.

“I thought it was fucking terrible what happened. It speaks to a lot of things, mostly the gaps in the juvenile delinquency system,” she told the Daily Dot, a reference to how the alleged assailants were formerly in the juvenile system. “So I thought the easiest way to raise money quickly was to do cam shows and donate the proceeds.”

Carrera said the “rant” on her YouTube channel was the culmination of many frustrations she had with the media, particularly how the media covers the abuse of sex workers.

“The media right now likes the stories that have a clean, black-and-white polarity,” she said. “They pick up the stories of women like Brianna Wu and Anita Sarkeesian, who leverage their quote-unquote victimhood. And here you have a woman who was gang raped at home with her children, and it’s upsetting to me that no one wants to deal with this.”

Although Wu and Sarkeesian have both received a great deal of abuse and harassment from those associated with Gamergate, Carrera believes the media prioritizes their narratives over that of sex workers. “I’m not minimizing harassment or abuse, but Anita Sarkeesian is a mistress of profiteering off her abuse,” she said. “What happens is, when people like that are controlling the narrative, when real things happen to people, no one pays attention to them.”

Carrera said that she has spoken to the victim of the assault numerous times in light of the attack, and that she endorses the vlog post she put up Sunday and the support she’s been getting from Gamergaters, despite the fact that she personally has no connection to Gamergate. She said that while the adult performer is doing OK, she’s traumatized and afraid to leave her home. (The adult performer did not respond to an email request for comment.)

The video and fundraising campaign have received an enormous amount of positive feedback, including what Carrera said was a $1,000 donation from Christy Mack (who was also the victim of a brutal assault by her ex-boyfriend War Machine last year). But whether it was in good taste to invoke Gamergate in the adult performer’s story is up for debate. Carrera denied exploiting her plight in the interest of Gamergate.

“I wish I hadn’t said anything about Gamergate,” Carrera said. “The only reason I brought it up is because through Gamergate, I got to see Brianna Wu and Anita Sarkeesian profiteering off of the media, while [there is a] lack of support for women who have really faced something major… my hope for this is that it can at least get [name redacted] some media coverage and donations.”

Photo via Quinn Dombrowski/Flickr (CC BY SA 2.0)

EJ Dickson

EJ Dickson

EJ Dickson is a writer and editor who primarily covers sex, dating, and relationships, with a special focus on the intersection of intimacy and technology. She served as the Daily Dot’s IRL editor from January 2014 to July 2015. Her work has since appeared in the New York Times, Rolling Stone, Mic, Bustle, Romper, and Men’s Health.