Anita Sarkeesian was forced to leave her home after receiving online death threats

Her latest video sparked even more hostility, forcing her to call authorities.

Jan 27, 2021, 9:25 am*

Internet Culture


Michelle Jaworski

Anita Sarkeesian, host of the webseries Tropes vs. Women in Video Games, was forced to call authorities and leave her home after she received death threats against her and her family.

Earlier this week, Sarkeesian released the latest video in her Tropes series, which looks critically at women’s roles and how they’re portrayed in video games. The video, clocking in at over 28 minutes, is the second episode to focus on female video game characters’ role as background decoration, and how the women are used as “both sexual playthings and the perpetual victims of male violence.”

Sarkeesian’s videos are often met with criticism. Ever since she started the Tropes vs. Women vlog series, the episodes have been pulled down from YouTube (and reinstated) after people abused the flag function. She’s been forced to disable comments, and she receives a slew of threats and misogynistic comments on social media over virtually every move she makes online.

For many women in geek and tech culture, the onslaught of sexism is nothing new. But with every episode Sarkeesian posts, more people are starting to take notice of the problematic elements in video games.

“Women as Background Decoration: Part 2” went live on the heels of another controversy in the gaming community, in which feminist developer Zoe Quinn and her family are facing harassment from gamers after an ex-boyfriend wrote a lengthy blog post alleging that Quinn slept with other professionals. The controversy has left her “temporarily homeless.”

The video sparked even more backlash than usual, and Sarkeesian received so many threats that she published a couple of the worse ones, something she normally doesn’t do.

One user created a Twitter account (which has since been suspended) specifically to send Sarkeesian threats against her and her family and posted personal information. No longer feeling safe, she contacted authorities. She later updated followers that she was safe and was staying with a friend.

The backlash against women in geek and tech culture is something people deal with all the time, something Sarkeesian acknowledges, and even now with the screenshots posted online, there are critics who will still call foul. But she’s determined to make more videos to continue her series, which will inevitably receive misogynistic comments yet again.

Photo via feministfrequency/YouTube

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*First Published: Aug 28, 2014, 2:27 pm