In Defense of Anita Sarkeesian
Alright, so I've been putting off making this post long enough. I think it's high time that I write it and I have enough tools with which do it justice.
This post is a follow-up to my previous one entitled Make Feminism Great Again. You don't have to have read that one first, but it'll make this one more effective if you do, because I go into great detail on my position within the culture war and where I stand in so far as the clash between feminists and anti-feminists.
In that article, I lay a foundation for what is known as the Persuasion Filter and how it can be applied to help bring both sides together to #HealTheDivide.
Again, you don't have to read it, but I'd highly recommend it for context.
"What private griefs they have, alas, I know not that made them do it. They are wise and honorable, and will, no doubt, with reasons answer you. I come not, friends, to steal away your hearts. I am no orator, as Brutus is." ~ Marc Anthony, Julius Caesar
One of the most frequent criticisms I get from people, apart from the usual stuff about being a pro-Trump libertarian nationalist, is in regards to my unabashed support for Anita Sarkeesian. I'm sure 100% of you reading this, who know who she is, are probably wondering how I can maintain both those thoughts in my brain at the same time and not have my head explode.
Well, I'm about to tell you, and if your mind isn't blown by the end of this article, I haven't done my job.
It may cause some cognitive dissonance, or even outright anger, in many of you to see the company she keeps within my Portraits of Inspiration gallery. It might even upset a few on that very list who don't like her very much, such as Sargon of Akkad or Styxhexenhammer (both of whom I support as well). It may even surprise her too, to be honest, given her disposition towards some of them, but I make no apologies for it. She deserves to be there because I genuinely respect and admire her as a person, even if I might disagree with some of her socio-political and cultural views.
This I shall now attempt to prove to you, her critics.
Undoubtedly, there will be something I say here that triggers cognitive dissonance and drives you up the wall. Your first instinct, upon coming across it will be to x-out the browser and rage quit because you're so angry with her. I get why, I really do. I used to feel that way myself before I got to know her, and once in a while she still says something to really irk me, but then, so do a lot of people I look up to. Maybe you think you already have something I haven't thought of - some dirt on her - and you don't need to hear anything more.
Resist that temptation, as I go through pretty much everything from GamerGate to VidCon, from Boogie to Sargon, from her money to claims of fraud, from cry-bullying to criticism, from her cultural and political Marxism to hating all men, from sock puppet accounts to not being a real gamer.
Trust me, I've got it all covered here.
(With still more in part 2!)
And for those who genuinely have some novel piece of evidence I somehow haven't considered, kindly hold off until the end before you present your counterargument. Just to be sure, ya know?
Alright, with the preliminaries out of the way, let's get started.
Grab a beverage, we're gonna be here awhile.
Know first that I am not a feminist, nor am I an anti-feminist. I take no sides in the culture war, but instead have elected to use my understanding of the Persuasion Filter to help #HealTheDivide between the two tribes.
Those of you who follow my blog know that I am a devout student of Scott Adams, author of Dilbert and Master Persuader. I have spent a long time learning all I can from him on Periscope and acquiring his particular set of persuasion tools. You could say that the work he's done with Hawk Newsome in trying to heal race relations, I have copied and tried to apply to gender relations. I've asked him in chat whether he thinks Anita might be a Master Persuader and Scott's response was he doesn't know who she is. That doesn't surprise me. However, based on what I've learned, I have high confidence in my ability to transpose that knowledge and say that yes, she most certainly is a Master Persuader, based on her use of the same tools. Her skill set is very similar in that.
She's likely not consciously aware that's what she's doing, but that doesn't matter. She can still use persuasion effectively in as much as you or I can use electricity without knowing how it works; and I would point to her profound success, influence, and socio-political presence as proof of that.
If nothing else, she's a household name to many of you.
Indeed, her oft polarizing statements are another sign of her persuasion skill, as Scott has noted in comparable references to Donald Trump's statements, his tweets, his optics, his word choice, his actions, and his overall effectiveness.
"Well, I don't find her persuasive at all! She's wrong and so are you!"
I'm sure many of you certainly feel that way, but being a Master Persuader doesn't mean you can magically convince everyone all the time, and it doesn't mean you're always right. Indeed, in baseball, if you bat a .300, you're considered an all-star, which all that means is you fail to hit the ball 70% of the time you're at bat. Put that way, it sounds really horrible, until you compare it to most people, who fail 99% of the time and more.
Contrast is an important persuasion tool, as is visualization (she makes videos).
Mockery is also good persuasion, and she uses a lot of playful humor as well to talk about serious issues, particularly in her new series. You might not like her specific brand of humor, and that's ok. Admittedly, I prefer dark humor myself (shocker, right?), whereas hers is kinda clean and dry; but just ask these folks how effective a tool mockery can be for persuading people about politics:
As you can probably tell, there are a lot of professional humorists on my list.
Within my gallery, each portrait has a single word attached to it, which embodies what that person means to me. Each is someone I consider to be, as the name suggests, an inspiring character who has taught me something significant at some point in my life and who has helped me to become a better person. Sometimes I update the descriptions and shift things around if I feel they could be better, but I generally try to future-proof myself by picking good titles from the beginning. I also try to do things for more than one reason whenever I can.
You may notice the word attached to Anita Sarkeesian's name (as I write this) is "Introspection." There's a reason for that, and it's tied to the Persuasion Filter.
Originally, I'd considered tagging her with "Criticism" as she is a media critic. It's basically her brand and her job description. It would not be an inappropriate assignment at all, and in fact it might even be a term she uses to describe herself. Indeed, you can think of many ways in which the term "criticism" is tied to Anita Sarkeesian. However, the word also carries with it a negative connotation. Most people don't like being criticized, even if it's necessary and done for the right reasons. Tough love is indeed a good thing. For persuasion purposes, though, it's a term that comes preloaded with emotion.
Some of her critics (again, note how that word makes you feel as you read this) would accuse her of not being open to accepting criticism herself.
I'm not going to make this a fluff piece about her and say she's an angel who never did anything wrong, because how could I know that apart from what I've seen and heard? I'm not a mind reader (and get ready to hear me say that a lot). Indeed, there is plenty I myself disagree with Anita on, but this isn't a hit piece either as my disagreements are with her arguments rather than her character. I like her as a person, even if you don't, and that's ok, you're not obligated to like anyone, just so long as you treat them with respect.
For context, Lady Gaga is also in my gallery. She's also a Master Persuader (according to Scott). Indeed, name someone else who's snapped a photo with five former U.S. Presidents, regardless of what you think of them. I love Lady Gaga. I love her art, her music, and what a good person she is, but I hate her politics. Katy Perry would be another person along those same lines. Love her but for her politics.
(Not the LGBT stuff so much as the pro-socialist stuff.)
Again, you can disagree with someone and still respect and admire them. I'm merely using this as a quick lesson in branding and persuasion. It works the other way too:
Towards that end, the reason I chose "Introspection" as my word to describe her is because that has a much more positive connotation. People like being regarded as introspective. It has the same meaning as being self-critical and self-analytical without the stigma. Even sounding it out, the consonants are softer on the ear. Try it yourself.
It's also deeply personal, as listening to Anita has caused me to be more introspective and self-critical of some of my own positions. Not all, certainly. I still cringe at times when she opens her mouth and says something I think is really tone deaf, but she's also changed my mind on a few things, or I've found myself thinking, "Hmm, that's an interesting point." And while I'm again not a mind reader, I'd be willing to bet that's ultimately what she cares about is using her craft to help people think differently.
To be more introspective towards the good.
You may recall, if you read my previous article, that I'm generally coming from an anti-fem position; and while I don't take sides, if you were to hold a gun to my head and force me to choose, odds are I'd default to that and be against her in the culture war; but I'm trying to be better than that, to transcend the identitarian conflict, and she is certainly part of the reason for it. Her and Sargon's spat at VidCon, I would say, was the catalyst for that transformation and that transcendence.
Say what you want about Anita, you can't take that away from her.
Now, for you anti-fems reading this, before you accuse me of spinning and covering for whatever horrible thing you think she did, let me just say again that I'm starting from a place where I'm already biased in your favor. That I'm more than happy to be corrected on this and be persuaded to change my mind. If it turns out she did in fact do something morally wrong, as many of her detractors claim, I'll hear your evidence and disavow that thing; but at least so far, no one I've talked to has really been able to come up with anything that would cause me to question her motives or her character.
Allow me to go through a few of the more common examples and explain why they aren't really the smoking guns you all think they are.
"Alas, my love, you do me wrong, to cast me off discourteously. For I have loved you well and long, delighting in your company." ~ Greensleeves
Perhaps the one piece of evidence against her that most-commonly circulates is an old black and white video which shows Anita standing in front of a class making a presentation. She admits that she didn't know a lot about video games and had to learn a lot about them, presumably for whatever feminist criticism she's about to levy in the presentation:
Her critics hold this up as evidence that she is a willful and deliberate fraud, that she's "not a real gamer," and that she's just scamming people for money to push a feminist agenda.
I can't know what's in her heart, so I can't say that isn't what happened, and I have tried to reach out to Anita to get her to clarify, but so far no response. You might say that's not surprising and that this is just more evidence she's trying to hide something, but I would caution that that's probably just confirmation bias on your part.
While I've yet to speak one-on-one with her, I've been in small group chats with her (on the order of less than half a dozen people) and she does tend to talk a lot. That's probably just due to her personal temperament, though. I'm about 99% certain she's a Leo and Leo's like to talk a lot. Like many of you, I wondered if she really does read what people write to her or if she just ignores stuff she doesn't like. Based on my personal experience, I'd have to conclude that direct and intimate conversations are probably a better way of getting through to her than tweets and emails, which takes time and rapport to build up to, which is something I aim to do.
Again, that may just be something to do with her personality. I don't think it's meant as malicious. I know Ebony Aster handles a lot of the emails for Feminist Frequency whereas Carolyn Petit has made it a New Year's Resolution to not be so addicted to social media. Anita has said she wants to delve back into studying academic feminism, which would translate into less time for social media as well. The three of them share stuff with each other, of course, but if you're looking for a guaranteed path directly to her, I can't say I've found one yet.
Probably for the best that way, actually.
If I had to guess, her past experiences probably turned Anita off to things like Twitter. She still uses it on occasion, but only recently did she return to it. I can recall not more than a few months ago her account was closed to outsiders, thus forcing me to follow the @FemFreq page instead until she eventually opened herself up to the public again.
Not wanting to be a Twitter junkie is actually a fairly ordinary sentiment. I know people like Vox Day, Bunty King, and Sargon have all claimed to feel relief after being banned from Twitter, so ...
For context, my experience of not being heard is about the same when I join Periscope chats with Scott Adams, which tend to be larger groups and it's harder to get a message out. I have, on occasion, been successful in that, but again, it takes time and real commitment. Trying to predict what will catch their eye is also tricky.
That may just be a by-product of being a famous person as well.
Speaking of context, I don't know the context of this video. It looks pretty convincing, but I don't know when it's from or where or what the circumstances were under which it was made. If I had to guess, I'd say it's from when she was in college, so something on the order of ten years ago or more.
If you shot video of me from ten years ago, I was a commie and a socialist back then, and now I'm a libertarian. That doesn't make me a liar. People change their minds, and context matters. So that alone is not enough to condemn her, though I will concede it raises a lot of valid questions just by itself.
To put this in an analogy, it'd be like trying to claim Donald Trump thinks all Mexicans are rapists because you saw a short, edited clip of him saying so, without seeing the longer clip in which he contextualizes the statement to mean strictly within the confines of illegal immigrants only, and not all Mexicans, or even all immigrants. In proper context, it doesn't look bad at all.
Scott's written a whole article about this type of dishonest portrayal, if you'd like to know more.
To be clear, I'm not suggesting anyone deliberately tried to frame Anita by editing the above video this way. That's not in evidence either, and it certainly looks sketchy; but again, it's just one statement taken out of context.
#ReleaseTheVideo. Maybe someday?
Someone on Twitter had sent me a link to a longer version of the same video, which helps a little, but not by much. There's only a few seconds more. What context it does provide would appear to vindicate Anita, if anything, as she starts talking more specifically about violent video games and not wanting to shoot people.
Remember, contrast is important.
Again, this is just speculation, but one possibility is that she's drawing a distinction between games as a whole and the sort of casual games she's used to playing and would prefer to play. She is on record elsewhere having stated that she enjoyed playing Mario, Zelda, and Kirby since she was young a child, and there is even photographic evidence of her playing SNES at age five. More recently she has said that platformers are her favorites, which would seem to corroborate that theory:
So maybe she just didn't know a lot about other kinds of games outside her preferred genre.
There are photos of her in front of mountains of games, which people have claimed were merely staged for effect because "she's not a real gamer!" First of all, who really cares if she is or not? That doesn't invalidate her arguments. And what's a real gamer anyway?
But ok, I'll bite. I can't prove that didn't happen, that she didn't just stage all that stuff; but ask yourself how likely that really is. It doesn't seem likely to me, when measured against other evidence, such that she regularly plays games on Twitch and is on record in Facebook livestreams talking about how, when she's waiting around in her hotel, she'll pick up Mario or Destiny and play because she's bored.
You know who else plays games when they're bored? Gamers.
I used to consider myself a pretty core gamer as well, but I don't anymore. Mostly, I just don't have the time for it like I used to because of real world responsibilities. I feel like it would be disingenuous to continue to apply that term to myself at this point. Maybe once in a while I'll watch a Let's Play or something. I still like them as much as ever, though, and will staunchly defend them and that culture, even from her criticisms when I think they're unwarranted.
But I'll also defend her when I think it's warranted.
As our Lord and Savior, Jordan Peterson, commanded us to do.
My own brother plays Destiny when he's bored, just like Anita, and I'd definitely consider him a real hardcore gamer; so just from my own personal experience, I'd say it's fair to claim Anita is at least somewhere between a casual gamer and a core gamer, judging by common vernacular.
So yeah, ask yourself, does all that seem like the behavior of someone who is "not a real gamer," or is it more likely you're just denouncing her in an ad hominem because you don't like her reviews? Would you say Total Biscuit or Ben "Yahtzee" Crowshaw aren't really gamers? I'd say they definitely are, and they're both harsh critics known to have eviscerated games they didn't like without mercy, just like Anita, because that's what critics do. In his Portal review, Yahtzee even vowed to jab forks into his eyes if he ever again reviewed a game where he couldn't say anything bad about it, because that felt like a betrayal of his profession as a critic.
The point is, clearly, they know their role is to find flaws most others don't see.
Granted, Ben and Biscuit aren't using a feminist lens to do it, and I'm not saying you have to like or agree with Anita's critiques. God knows I can find plenty to disagree with, but that's different from the usual charges of her being a fraud. Her critiques are fair game. Her character is another matter, though.
As I said before, the term "critic" doesn't tend to have a very positive connotation, and simply through mere repetition (which again is tool of persuasion), that probably gets reinforced into one's personality and worldview. It could well be the case that being a critic in itself tends to make people off-putting to a degree more than the average person, at least if you're any good at it.
Maybe you choose to see Anita as being the Anton Ego of gaming, but remember that even he was coming from a good place:
Again, the point is to find fault. It comes with the territory, but the intent is to also make things better because you love them and want to see them not be shit, however you define that. Of all the feminist activist things she could be doing, I highly doubt Anita would spend so much time playing and critiquing games if she didn't have a genuine passion for them in her heart and a desire to make video games great again (for the first time?) in her eyes.
But that's just speculation.
“I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.” ~ Maya Angelou
A frequent response to her claim of true passion is to say that Anita's just doing it for the money. I'm not a forensic accountant and I doubt you are either, so what we can know for sure on that front is rather limited.
I do, however, know that Sargon of Akkad made a video back in 2014 of Anita's testimonial regarding a financial seminar she took when she was twenty-three (so, over a decade ago as I write this) in which she says she found the program helpful in terms of making money.
Ok ... so she once took a marketing course. Not sure how this is evidence of fraud.
I've taken marketing courses too. Some were shit. Others were really helpful and I learned stuff from them. My brother and I once attended Quixstar seminars together - yes, that Quixstar - and we learned a fair bit about how business worked, but ultimately got out of it after realizing that making hella money with multi-level marketing depended most heavily on recruitment of others into the program, versus just selling products. So again, not sure how attending a seminar makes you a bad person.
You wouldn't say that if she went to Dale Carnegie, would you? Or if she took a Master Class or a MOOC on Coursera or something.
Bunty King's day job is in marketing and I'm sure he'll be the first to defend the profession, saying that it's possible to be in sales and still maintain a sense of ethics. As I wrote in my first article, in my tribute to Scott, I'd put off learning those same skills for a long time because I didn't see how the two could mesh either; but since adopting the Persuasion Filter, I've seen how marketing could be used for good as well, and indeed how essential it is.
"B-but ... but she's making money off her activism!"
Yes, ok. So what? You know who else gets paid to be a socio-political activist? Sargon of Akkad. What the fuck do you think his channel is? He's just promoting a different set of values and critiques than she is. No one would suggest he's a fraud, because he's clearly not. He asks for donations, and those who value his work offer him money. It's that simple.
"Caveat Emptor!" Let the buyer beware.
Regretting your purchase isn't itself proof of fraud anymore than regret sex is proof of rape, though you're always free to ask for your money back, I suppose.
You know who else fits that category? Me, Styxhexenhammer, Dave Rubin, Jordan Peterson, Candace Owens, Scott Adams, ... just about anyone with a Patreon account who makes content about socio-political stuff is being paid for their socio-political activism. Ben Shapiro gets paid to talk about his socio-political views. Stefan Molyneux gets paid for his socio-political views. Steve Crowder gets paid for his views. Joe Rogan gets paid for his views. Jon Stewart got paid for his socio-political views.
Every pundit and opinion caster in the media is being paid to propagate their particular views, it's just a matter of whether you agree with those particular views or not.
In the case of Ben Shapiro, he even has advertisers, which is fine. I've nothing against that. Most podcasts and radio shows do in order to survive. Howard Stern does the same. Stefan doesn't. He asks for donations, just like Anita does.
A lot of these people also get huge speaking fees in exchange for their time, which is priced based on supply and demand. That alone is not evidence of fraud (they're not politicians or lobbyists).
Sure, it may be noble for people to volunteer their time for free towards their activism, but if you aren't gonna hold your own camp to that same standard, why single her out?
Again, I'm not even saying you should find fault with any of those people for making money. Just the opposite, in fact. I see it as a good thing they can support themselves promoting ideas. People have a right to be paid for their time and mental labor. It's a measure that what those people are doing is providing value to others, even if you don't think it's particularly valuable. I don't think derivatives or selfie sticks or Super Bowl tickets are particularly valuable. Others do and are willing to put money towards them. That's ok. It's their money, not mine, let them do what they want.
We all have limited resources to spend and our own priorities on where to spend them, so we make different choices. That's the ordinary human experience.
Let me say this again, because repetition is important. There is nothing wrong with making money - even a lot of money - for promoting your social and political views as long as, wait for it ... it's voluntary. That's called capitalism. It's not the government or the mafia, no one's arm is being twisted into continued support. If you don't like a person's views, you don't have to give them your money; and it's actually one thing I really respect about Anita is that, even though she seems to have democratic socialist leanings (so far as I can tell), she is using non-violence and the free market and civil discourse as her preferred method of doing activist stuff. In terms of tactics, she is on-par with Sargon, et al.
Even if you think her ideology is complete shit, you have to at least respect that about her, considering there are a lot of violent people in the world.
Again, contrast is important.
In fact, from what I've seen, Anita has been pretty consistent in her condemnation of violence of any kind, both in video games and in the real world. That might just come down to temperament as well or something in her personal history.
I'm by no means a pacifist but there is something admirable about that.
Granted, she's still a Marxist and a democratic socialist, so her particular policy preferences are innately forms of systemic violence, which is the main source of my own criticism of her, as a libertarian.
As with most leftists and socialists, she naively thinks she's doing the right thing, when in fact she's not, which isn't her fault. It's likely no one taught her any differently. No one taught me any differently, until someone did. It's perfectly fair to say she doesn't understand what she's really asking for with things like free healthcare and gun control; but given her particular temperament and disposition towards non-violence generally, I think she would readily abandon those particular policies if it could be persuasively demonstrated to her how exactly that's the case.
Go ahead, tell me she wouldn't.
I have heard her say, from her own mouth, that men getting raped is not only real, but clearly just awful and that feminism should not be a partisan issue, which sets her apart from a lot of out-there left-wing progressives and obvious man-haters. Once in a while, I might hear her make a rather obvious joke to that effect - noting how she once typed "hate male" instead of "hate mail" by accident, for instance - but it's just that same playful humor of hers, nothing serious or malicious. It's trolling, same as we all do. You could say an equal commitment to non-violence is a low bar, that being nice and not initiating force is the bare minimum requirement; but again, in contrast to many real monsters on the progressive left, the things she says and does aren't actually that radical.
You know what else? That's also her argument (to men, at least).
If anything, her admission of such issues serves as a highly persuasive tool, known as pacing and leading, wherein you first match a person's emotional tone, agreeing with them, establishing a baseline of credibility, and then priming them to lead them to where you want them to go. It's something you might have noticed me doing as well.
Despite what you may think, though, Anita's probably far closer to someone like Laci Green or Emma Watson than to the sort of garbage humans who fill the ranks of BAMF or Antifa.
Speaking for myself, I generally care more about what a person does than what they say; and in this case, I may not like all the things she says, but I support her to encourage her to continue doing the right thing, which is ultimately more important.
The real, almost sad irony, when you think about it, is that most of her critics keep trying to paint her as this cartoon villain sitting on a war chest the way socialists often depict the wealthy elite; and yet, that very portrayal is debunked by Amazing Atheist in his video in which he tries to do exactly the same thing to her:
In the course of his crusade, he actually winds up vindicating her with documentary evidence that shows she's not actually as rich as people think. Not even close.
What's funny is, he almost sounds like he feels sorry for her because of that. As if even he placed a higher value on her work that that.
I'm not really sure why a bunch of anti-feminists would be financing Feminist Frequency anyway. That seems rather weird to me. Though, to be fair, perhaps they're trying to be more like me in the sense of wanting to hear what she says and move more towards the center, I don't know. I doubt it. I think they're mostly just looking for something to rant and complain about, engaging in confirmation bias, which then devolves into a bunch of virtue signaling (ironically) as these critics claim to care about what other people do with their own money.
Worse still if they're economic conservatives, as they should really know better.
If they did contribute for that reason and didn't get what they felt they paid for, well, I can sympathize with that. Alternatively, if Anita were promoting violence and crime, then maybe they'd also have a point that people shouldn't be funding that; but again, that's not in evidence. If anything, the exact opposite appears to be.
I'm specifically discounting the socialism stuff in that because, by and large, it's only a very small portion of what she actually talks about, and that isn't what most people are complaining about with regards to her anyway.
(Though perhaps they should.)
Either way, it seems as though the money she raised was used for the purposes claimed. I can go on her channel right now and see all the videos that were promised. All the ones Amazing Atheist said she never made, and now she makes a new one each week and sometimes more.
But don't just take my word for it, go look and see for yourself, and tell me what's still missing.
About the worst anyone can potentially say regarding the donations she received is that Anita's videos arrived late and people had to drag them out of her like pulling teeth. Fair enough. I don't know if there were any promises that got substantially broken or time-tables that were breached along the way. There could have been. I can't say that didn't happen, as I wasn't following her back then; but the current reality seems to be that, even if that was true, she's since made good on her promises and paid any debt to society.
Can we maybe call that square and move on?
For all her outrage about how shitty men can be, and all the horrible things men do to women, she's also been consistently willing to forgive. Again, from her own mouth, her advice is that if you do something shitty, just admit to it, fix it, and try to do better.
That's her standard, and it's a fairly compassionate one, all things considered. Is that yours? Would you give her the same consideration?
Most of you reading this likely don't have access to her backstage, patron-only content wherein she and her team occasionally read through their hate mail together; but I do and, as much as I hate to say it, y'all need to work on crafting better arguments. I get that you're frustrated with her and many of you have valid points you're trying to raise, but what have I been saying this whole time? It's not so much what you say, it's how you say it.
That said, even I can't help but laugh along with them when you start talking about
her legions of radical feminazi enforcers. It's the most transparent hyperbole I've ever heard.
I know I said she's a Master Persuader, but damn! She's not that persuasive, and even she wishes she were as good as half you people apparently think she is. For $10, you can go and confirm that Anita knows everything that I'm telling you here about the videos or, if you'd rather not, you can just take my word for it and I wouldn't blame you for not wanting to spend the money on her, since I know you still don't like her.
Maybe donate it to my Patreon, instead, since I'm not getting paid to do this.
You won't, though.
Alright, so is everyone still with me? You're able to follow along? No major disagreements yet? Right? Good. Maybe pause, take a break, and come back after you've processed all of that. I know it's a lot to take in all at once.
We're still only halfway done with this trial, and I'm saving the best for last.
"A judge should have two salts: the salt of wisdom, lest he be insipid; and the salt of conscience, lest he be devilish." ~ Legal Maxim
The situation regarding the release of her videos strikes me as being very similar to the way in which many of Donald Trump's detractors raised hue and cry and made a big deal over him not meeting his promises in the first hundred days of taking office. Yet, over a year later, he's gotten a lot done, more than any sitting president in recent memory, with some of what went off the rails not being because of him so much as Congress and the media-political complex; and regardless of how you feel about his character or his politics, you can't deny that he was really effective and has been working hard behind the scenes to get a lot of stuff done that his supporters wanted.
As Scott Adams famously said, he's effective, you just don't like him.
I'd argue the same is true of Anita. As a content creator who's tried to start my own businesses before, I can tell you firsthand that life, the universe, and everything gets in the way. That's no excuse for making and breaking promises, but I bring that up just to help you imagine there could be other reasons besides deliberate fraud and greed for why things might not have gone the way they should have. Yes, it's good that you want to hold her to her word, and you should do that, but be strict on one hand and compassionate on the other.
Another criticism I often hear is that Anita created fake sock puppet accounts to play cry-bully and accuse people of sexual harassment. I wrote an article expressing my thoughts on Gamer Gate already.
You can read through that and apply it to her.
I wasn't following her back then, so I can't say that didn't happen, but it doesn't seem credible to me. If anyone wants to offer up evidence, I'll happily take a look at it and weigh that against everything else; but the most likely explanation is that some people didn't like her criticism, they trolled her, a handful of shitlords snuck into that group and actually made threats against her (whether those threats were in fact credible or not), she responded appropriately to them, but couldn't differentiate the shitposters from the shitlords and so painted them both with the same brush.
Let me be clear. If that's in fact what happened and she overgeneralized, I'll grant you that's not a good thing and that it most likely added to the damage; but let me dial back your outrage just a tad and help you see things from her perspective.
As someone who's low-key lurked on Alt-Right boards and Kekistani boards in the past, I can tell you it's often hard to differentiate the shitposters and trolls from the actual Nazis and white supremacists, especially on the internet where you can't read body language or tone and everyone's just trying to be super edgy in general. Same on the other side with Antifa, BLM, and Commie boards. Or the Flat-Earthers and their inane shit. Hard to tell who actually believes what sometimes versus who's merely LARPing for keks.
I know Sargon's no stranger to shitposting and neither am I. It's fun, it gets a rise out of people, while not being malicious. That's why people do it.
Yet look at the backlash that Sargon got for his trolling of Jesse Philips. He made that comment with innocent intent, merely looking to be provocative and to push her emotional buttons. She reacted exactly as he predicted (which was partly the point in making it). You don't have to like the joke or find it funny, you can say it's offensive and insulting (which it is), it's certainly not endearing and I wouldn't expect her to ever wanna talk to him after that; but it's clearly not a credible threat, and anyone who thinks otherwise admits they don't understand the meaning of the phrase, "I wouldn't even."
You could argue he shouldn't have said it, that it got him in a lot of trouble, and maybe it would have been better if he hadn't. I agree with all that, and I think in hindsight so might he; but the purpose of free speech is not to protect speech we like, so much as it is to protect speech we dislike, short of credible threats of violence or fraud.
I know Sargon well enough to know his intent when he made that statement and I believe his claim of innocence, yet I also believe some people probably dog-piled onto it and made actual threats against Jesse Philips. I believe her when she says some people threatened to rape her because, let's be honest, in that chaos, some people probably did, which she understandably conflated with the trollery; and maybe her own ideological lens had her hallucinating stuff that wasn't there too.
I don't know, I'm only speculating, so don't treat any of this as fact.
But the most likely explanation in these chaotic situations is that there is an aspect of truth on both sides, and pandemonium can arise even when people act with the best intentions, because the optics of what they're doing aren't great and people misperceive things regularly because there's a disconnect between what people think, what they say, and what they do.
That's one thing the Persuasion Filter helps you recognize and adjust for.
I bring that up to show that making over-generalizations online is a perfectly ordinary experience. That doesn't mean it's a good thing, only that it's relatable. Again, though, I'm not a mind reader so I can't say Anita's completely innocent, just that malicious intent is not in evidence from what I've seen, and I would find it highly unlikely.
“There is nothing that is going to make people hate you more, and love you more, than telling the truth.” ~ Stefan Molyneux
Many people apparently think Anita hates cis white men, yet she has them on her staff. She's the boss of Feminist Frequency. If she hated them, why would there be any there? Wouldn't she just fire them and make it the all-girl squad? I don't care so much that her panel is all women, they can do their own thing as it's their show just like The View has an all-women's panel.
I know some TERFs and traditionalists will try to strawman that point over Carolyn being trans, but just stick with me on this for now. If it helps, maybe call it a failure of technology, rather than intent or identity, since if she could snap her fingers and be as good as nature-made, I'm sure she would in a heartbeat; and then, in your eyes, she'd be a woman. Right? Or if you're gonna insist she's a man, that just further proves my point, since Anita likes Carolyn well enough as a - in your view, I guess - cis white man who LARPs as a woman.
Either way, you're not her doctor, so what do you care?
Returning to Anita, you can find footage in which she gives men hugs on occasion, which seems like an odd thing for a man-hater to do. Again, there's the whole bit about basically agreeing with the MRAs and the meninists and just every other sane person that men being raped is really shitty. In her own way, she even views the patriarchy as being harmful to cis white males, which ... not the best argument, but sure, Anita. Your intent is at least well-noted there.
Here, she can be seen laughing with cis white male Stephen Colbert:
Yes, Stephen's a lefty ally, but you probably prefer to hang out with people who share your ideological allegiances too, independent of any questions about their identity.
(Unlike certain ethno-nationalists.)
If you're savvy and can read between the lines of what she says in her podcasts and streams, you'll find Anita's honest feelings about men are actually pretty standard fair. Yes, I know she has that image on her Twitter that says "Trust No Man," and honestly, I'd love nothing more than to sit down with her one-on-one and ask her about that myself; not to use it against her, but to genuinely try and understand who the shitlords were that hurt her so badly as to make her feel that way and to help #HealTheDivide it created within her.
I think I know the answer as to why, but I'll not speculate here. If I'm right, though, it's similar in kind to the sort of events that caused me to have a love-hate relationship with the police, and to default to a general position of mistrust towards them, even though I know many of them are good people who only wanna protect and serve.
If you're savvy, I hinted at the reason people feel that way in my previous post.
Again, I'd love to ask her about it, but I'm not that close to her, as much as I might like to be. That's ultimately up to her, though, and whether she feels comfortable discussing such things with me or anyway else.
Do you think most of her critics would feel so compassionately towards her?
(Update: That part's actually been answered since I wrote this article. I talk about it here.)
One of the most touching moments for me in listening to her podcasts was when Anita mentioned her mentor, Allen G. Johnson, whom she described as being her biggest influence in terms of feminist theory after Bell Hooks. Again, their ideology is fair game, I've no problem with people targeting that; but in terms of character, it was really moving to hear her eulogize him after his passing and how conflicted she felt about having a cis white male be the one to teach her about feminism.
It was like watching Rey wrestling with the balance between Light Side and Dark Side.
Again, I'm not a mind reader, but if I had to speculate - just based on my own experiences - I'd say that conflict was the result of cognitive dissonance, in realizing that radical feminist dogma said one thing, while her own lived experiences said another. A sort of religious disillusionment, perhaps even a sense of betrayal coupled with relief, as falsehood dies giving way to deeper truth. That egalitarianism no more belongs to women or minorities than does the Force belong to the Jedi; but rather, it's something that can come from anyone and be felt by everyone. That experience, I would wager, perhaps kept her from going over the edge to full radical.
Do you know what that tells me about her?
It tells me she's human and has normal human feelings, like the rest of us. #ItsOkToBeHuman
Not long after that, I sent Feminist Frequency an email, addressed to Anita directly, expressing my condolences on the passing of her hero. I don't know anymore about the man than what I'd heard from Anita, but I told her I felt her pain, as I too had a wise old cis white male Jedi Master mentor who spoke often about systems - albeit not ones of oppression - and how much he meant to me and how I'd hate for anything bad to happen to him. My relationship with Scott Adams and hers with Allen Johnson seemed a synchronous parallel; and when I finally got to speak with her in video chat for the first time, I too felt that same starstruck feeling.
It was surreal talking to her, even indirectly. It felt like she was right there with me, despite being 3000 miles away, and mostly we just rambled on about fairly normie stuff. We had genuine fun, laughing together, joking together, barely discussing identity politics at all, even within the context of a FemFreq AMA. It felt so relieving and lighthearted, like a great weight had been lifted from us all, and we just treated one another like human beings for a change.
Truly, it was one of the most pleasurable experiences I'd had in a long time and my energy was so incredibly high for the rest of the night. It was like being a little kid again. 38D
Indeed, isn't that the feeling of harmony we all long for? The state we're trying to get to, but this culture war shit keeps getting in the way?
As I write this, I don't know if Anita ever got my email, let alone read it. For all I know, she might have trashed it without a second thought and that wouldn't change how I feel about her. Ok, maybe I'd be a little bit hurt if she did that, but that's already been baked into the equation as a possibility. I've already started from a position of assuming the worst-case scenario as the default while hoping for the best and going from there when making my assessment of her and she still comes out ahead in my book. So what should that tell you about her other qualities if they can tip the scales like that?
How much better still if that default turns out to be wrong and she surprises me? As I said, I don't know if she ever got my email, but I know most of you reading this probably didn't send her one. That's ok though. I wasn't expecting you to. You probably don't follow her work, so you didn't know; but would you, knowing now? Would you hang out with her? Play with her? Laugh with her? Cry with her? Giver her a hug (she probably needs lots of those)?
Would you wish her happy birthday or happy Valentine's Day or Merry Christmas? Or is she just a pariah to you?
Would you listen to her just to get to know her at a deeper level than her feminist identity? As a Trekkie and a cat-mom who also loves dogs, but whose lifestyle won't allow for them because she's always traveling? As someone who cried watching Broadchurch and who appreciates deep character-driven stories set in hardcore sci-fi settings? Who paints her nails to look like galaxies that match her DnD dice and has a really good narrator voice for doing dramatic readings? Who takes cruises to Mexico and has been to Sweden; but who, for some reason, hates astrology and Suckerpunch, and didn't realize for the longest time that Meghan Markel played Rachel Zane in Suits? Someone who doesn't consider herself a hopeless romantic, but likes hip-hop dancing and figure skating, has a certain fondness for peaches, and who appreciates the view atop a really tall San Francisco hill (especially if there's sushi involved)?
Do you know that Anita?
I do, and a lot more. Because I listen to her and I care.
To you, she's likely just a feminazi who hates fun, but I took the time to get to know her, putting up real money to do it, just to see the person beyond the ideology and to try and understand who she was and where she was coming from ... because of who I am and where I've come from.
I don't particularly like Don Lemon either, but I tweeted my condolences following the passing of his sister in an accidental drowning. That's just the sort of person I am.
What about you?
Do you love your enemies and pray for those who curse you? Can you look past your ideological lens the way, say, Laci Green and Chris Ray Gun did? To see the person behind the politics?
Please, God, let them and that reference age well. They are so cute together. ^_^
So yeah, I don't consider it credible that she hates cis white males. She might. She's the only one who really knows for sure, but that's not in evidence through her words and actions, which is about as good as one could hope for. That one image aside, she appears savvy enough to distinguish between at least "good men" and "bad men," even if we might not agree on who fits into those categories.
That Anita is often critical of the latter should not, by itself, prejudice her feelings in a broader sense. I rather like the way my one friend put it, speaking on a similar subject:
"When I post pro-black things, do not decide they are anti-white. When I post pro-woman things, do not decide they are anti-man. If you truly know me, you know I’m not that person [...] Me bringing attention to certain social subject matters of course does not negate other social issues, therefore it’s silly to get on my posts with that attitude. Just because these things I talk about are real for a particular demographic I never make them anti- anyone. We have to stop this mindset that being pro- something is an automatic anti- what people view is the opposite of that. Take a message for face value and stop making them a platform for other things. We can address specific problems .... it’s ok to do so."
For the record, my friend who said that is decidedly not a progressive SJW, and is barely even a feminist, because of the negative rep that word has garnered for itself. So you can rest easy, knowing that's a reach across the aisle.
Not that it should matter, as truth is truth, but because most of you reading this are still stuck in tribal mode, it'll help break you out of that mindset if I point out my friend is also a strong, independent black woman with a personality and attitude to rival that Ebony Aster. So while my friend may not necessarily be on their side, she's still making a sincere, heartfelt statement that - and you know this part is true - sounds like it could have just as easily have come from the mouth of an intersectional-feminist.
Do you think that might be Anita's attitude as well with regards to cis white men?
(Reread it again and see.)
"Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by ignorance." ~ Hanlon's Razor
You'll have to take me at my word on this next part for now (hopefully I've earned your trust up to this point), but I even have firsthand knowledge that Anita's perfectly aware of the fact that her Tropes series w