Anita Sarkeesian appeared at XOXO. After she stepped off the stage, I had a chance to go up and introduce myself. Someone offered to take a photo. I went to post it on Twitter, but first I hesitated. Sarkeesian, a well-known critic of misogyny in videogames who founded the non-profit Feminist Frequency, is subjected to horrendous abuse and threats from internet trolls. If I post a photo of myself with her, will I be directing some tiny part of that nastiness in my direction?
I've always been appalled by the level of misogynistic energy in the sphere of video games. But I've felt separate from it, because I am not a "gamer" and I don't pay attention to anything in that industry, unless a new version of The Sims is coming out. But Sarkeesian's talk, while bodyguards were standing by, really moved me. This woman is brave.
And then a little voice in my head said:
"Decide: do you care about this or do you not care about this? You can't say 'oh, I agree with this in principle but I don't want to do anything that inconveniences me in any way.' At some point, you have to put your oar in."
The little voice was John Siracusa, on Episode 81 of the Accidental Tech Podcast (1:49:45).
I posted the photo. I also tweeted about how brave she is. That tweet got picked up by Buzz Feed.
I did get several strangers challenging me on Twitter. It was creepy. There are guys who are clearly just searching Twitter, looking for someone to pick a fight with. But (so far) it's all been pretty tame. It was annoying (I had to turn off my Twitter notifications), but that was all.
Read The Verge story for more details of her talk. Despite the disturbing, depressing subject matter, I was left feeling inspired and hopeful, thanks to Anita Sarkeesian's courage and grace.
I am optimistic: when there are more women in tech, the internet will become a better place for women. And everyone else.
Code is a documentary that examines the reasons for the lack of diversity in tech. Watch this teaser, and consider making a pledge to the Indiegogo campaign.
The filmmakers were at Macworld, filming our App Camp For Girls session. I'm proud to be an advisor to this fundraiser. (I'm also looking forward to my Ada Lovelace doll perk!)