Kotaku UK Writer Harassed After Totalbiscuit Coverage
Early yesterday morning, Laura Kate Dale published an interview on Kotaku UK with John Bain, AKA Totalbiscuit, a lifelong gamer, podcaster and cancer survivor detailing the ins and outs of his career and personal struggles that he’s faced. The article itself was fair, even leading with the statement that some might loathe the man, in part due to his commentary in late 2016 regarding a series of controversial articles decrying the gaming public as misogynistic.
For his commentary on the articles, his open criticism of the political nature of them, and other commentary of the ethical violations he took note of, Bain was quickly pigeonholed in as a so-called GamerGater, called a serial harasser and misogynist. To Bain’s credit, while he has spoken in support of GamerGate, evidence of his apparent misogyny and harassment has yet to be brought forward. However, Bain himself was the recipient of several harassment campaigns from the so-called Anti-GamerGate crowd, some going so far as to wish for his painful death from cancer.
Despite the fair-mindedness of the article, not everyone seemed to agree. Not long after the article went live, Anita Sarkeesian of Feminist Frequency was quick to call out Kotaku UK, fostering a lengthy thread on the gaming forum NeoGAF that prompted what the author of the piece, Laura Kate Dale, called a harassment campaign.
— Feminist Frequency (@femfreq) August 16, 2017
Dale herself was a staunch opponent of GamerGate, falling in line with the narrative that GamerGate, without fail targeted women and supporters of women’s rights. But, as many people within the GamerGate community pointed out, most were merely reacting to being insulted and vilified by the gaming media– most of which just happened to be women and supporters of women’s right. It really was a chicken & egg situation.
Why does that matter, you ask?
Well, frankly, it doesn’t. Not in the context of her contributions to gaming culture at least. But it is rather hypocritical of Sarkeesian and NeoGAF users, who are normally very quick to leap to the defense of marginalized identities while they’re being criticised online, to paint a target on her to the point where she was being accused of sympathizing with nazis simply for writing an article and was forced to temporary suspend her own Twitter account. She was also quick to disavow the support of those she labeled as Nazis. Whether or not she makes a distinction between literal Nazis and enthusiastic gamers sick of being called misogynists and racists based on flimsy evidence is anyone’s guess.
Regardless, one can hope that the lesson she takes from this not be stained by ideological trappings, and that there is nuance in everything. Harassment and criticism can come from many sources.
As for John Bain, he was also quick to respond to Sarkeesian in a laudable rant about the extremes of both the left and the right and how much they deserve each other. Short of throwing everyone in the same pit, he did make some valid points about Sarkeesian’s ability to both stand shoulder-to-shoulder with 4chan trolls and bigots while also claiming the role of victim.
Bain also had some closing words for those who celebrated his epic rant.