Sorry for the radio silence, but my mind is currently full of low-level optimizations and inner loops and distributed hashing and integrals, effectively shutting out the blog. Yes, I could just do “ain’t this cool” blogging, but I normally use that as filler while I work on much longer pieces. No work on longer pieces = no filler. That might change, but not in the short term.
Anyway, I did want to pop back up for the latest controversy. Alex Gabriel has written my favourite article on the subject, but I want to cover something very different. Let’s get this band-aid off:
Richard Dawkins is the most prominent member of GamerGate.
Sorry, I don’t even think I was on caffeine when I came up with that one. Dawkins has never been a gamer, even though he seems to have been technically savvy at some point. In what strange universe does this shoe fit?
The funny thing is, if you ask the members of GamerGate to pick some sort of representative, the list doesn’t include gamers. For the AirPlay panel, they picked Christina Hoff Sommers, Milo Yiannopoulos, and Cathy Young. Those two women have nothing to do with video games, while Milo mocked video gamers. The Sarkeesian Effect, a documentary created by and for GamerGate, interviews Young, various MRAs and Jack Thompson, a guy who’s famous for trying to ban video games. They also spend a long while discussing Rebecca Watson, Chanty Binx, and just railing against feminism in general.
So gaming isn’t a core part of GamerGate, while anti-feminism clearly is. Note too that you don’t have to identify as part of GamerGate to be included in the club; Christina Hoff Sommers talks as if she isn’t part of the movement, yet “Based Mom” is revered by them and the focus of fan art. Her influence demands that she be considered a member.
While it’s tempting to say that anti-feminism alone defines GamerGate, that isn’t enough. Phyllis Schlafly is also an anti-feminist, yet she isn’t considered part of GamerGate. This suggests there’s a cultural or social aspect; you not only have to be an anti-feminist, you have to associate with the right people and say similar things. So let’s take Richard Dawkins down the list, and see how he fares.
Beliefs: Richard Dawkins is an anti-feminist, but in the CHS mould. He claims to be a feminist himself, yet spends an inordinate amount of time mocking feminists. His spat with Rebecca Watson is infamous, he’s gone on the record as saying Chanty Binx deserves mockery and may be mentally ill, he’s retweeted CHS favorably, argued women who drink can’t be trusted with rape claims, claims feminism is poisoning science, and so on.
There’s also a tendency to endorse conspiracies. Remember Ahmed and his clock? Dawkins thought it was all a big hoax in order to get into the White House. Much like the average ‘Gator, he thinks victims make up their abuse in order to benefit from it.
Culture: He’s invoked many of the same terminology they do, like “witch hunts,” “thought police,” and “clickbait for profit.” He reads Brietbart, tweeting links from it frequently. He’s railed about over-sensitivity. Shirtgate? Check. Retweeting anti-feminist memes? Check. “You’re just offended?” Check. Banning, de-platforming, and a general misunderstanding of free speech? Check. Invoking satire? Check. “Lynch mobs” and “cults” show up indirectly. The hottest thing in MRA-land is bashing third-wave feminism in favor of second-wave, which as far as I can tell is a month old at most. Dawkins is on top of that one, too.
Associates: CHS has backed him. Breitbart regularly defends him. He’s retweeted Mike Cernovich, who’s sometimes considered part of GamerGate. He’s retweeted Janet Bloomfield, a prominent member of the MRA community who’s infamous for making up quotes from feminists in order to smear them. The video which kicked off the latest controversy was from Sargon of Arkkad, who’s a GamerGate star, and while Dawkins deleted his tweet of it he thought it was worth a retweet, even after Lindy West explained how sharing it was making the abuse worse for Chanty Binx. MGTOWs follow him, and there’s signs of 4Chan activity.
If you’re still with me, the final leap is the smallest. Dawkins has a much greater Twitter reach than any other person associated with GamerGate. Adam Baldwin? Nope. Milo? Nope. Christina Hoff Sommers? Nope. Dawkins is the undisputed champion here.
That has consequences for the atheist/skeptical movement.