Following threats of extreme violence at Utah State University, feminist culture-critic Anita Sarkeesian has cancelled her speech at the school scheduled for Wednesday. This morning, someone claiming to be a student at the university emailed staff members, saying that he or she would commit "the deadliest school shooting in American history" if the event wasn't cancelled, according to Utah newspaper The Standard Examiner. The email's author says that feminists have ruined their life and promised a "Montreal Massacre-style attack," stating that he or she possesses a variety of firearms and explosives and that no one in attendance or at the campus' Women's Center would be able to defend themselves should the lecture take place. This isn't the first time Sarkeesian has come under threat, either -- let alone the first time this year.
Recently, Sarkeesian has spoken out against violence being committed against female characters in video games via her Tropes vs. Women in Games video series. Dissenters are making their disapproval known with death threats. And those dissenters? Some are extreme members of the GamerGate movement -- the online group that bombarded Intel with requests for the company to pull its advertisement from Gamasutra earlier this month. While GamerGate has origins in a quest for more ethical journalism in the gaming community, it's been co-opted by people keen on threatening female game developers and their families with rape and other violence. For a detailed breakdown of exactly what GamerGate is, be sure to read Deadspin's explainer on the subject.
Update: Sarkeesian has tweeted that she didn't cancel her appearance because of the threats themselves, but due to her feeling that USU's security measures were inadequate.
Anita Sarkeesian has canceled her speech scheduled for tomorrow at USU. University classes and business will continue as scheduled.- USUAggies (@USUAggies) October 15, 2014
Let's be real for a second. #gamergate is the new name for a group that has been harassing me for 2 years. All the same users are involved.- Feminist Frequency (@femfreq) October 13, 2014
Multiple specific threats made stating intent to kill me & feminists at USU. For the record one threat did claim affiliation with #gamergate- Feminist Frequency (@femfreq) October 15, 2014
At this point supporting #gamergate is implicitly supporting the harassment of women in the gaming industry.- Feminist Frequency (@femfreq) October 15, 2014
I'm safe. I will continue my work. I will continue speaking out. The whole game industry must stand up against the harassment of women.- Feminist Frequency (@femfreq) October 15, 2014