When I can’t sleep, I often listen to Public Radio, sometimes the BBC through the Minnesota Public Radio stream, but sometimes the Public Radio International (PRI) internet stream. Late one recent night the show To the Best of Our Knowledge from PRI came on with an episode titled “Why the Internet is Toxic for Women.” I came in partway through the Gamergate interview with Zoë Quinn.
The harassment Quinn and many women have endured merely for the ‘sin’ of being female and online struck me deeply. I’d followed the story in a distance way. I knew of Gamergate, but I didn’t know Quinn’s name. I knew a young woman game designer was at the victim of intense harassment, but I didn’t know she had designed a game I had never heard of called Depression Quest. I didn’t know a judge had told Quinn that if she wanted the harassment to stop she should simply take her life offline. He even told her this after she told him that she needed to have an online presence to be a working person in her industry.
I had never heard Quinn speak before.
Yes, the details are oppressive. But there’s something reassuring in listening to Quinn, in hearing her own reasonable voice, that moves me forward.