1. Over the last couple years, a few feminists have been pointing out that many video games perpetuate sexist stereotypes about women, and make little room for women in their stories and gameplay. The locus of this conversation has been Anita Sarkeesian and her Fem…
It’s not just that Utah State University reported Tuesday that several staff members had received an anonymous threat promising “the deadliest school shooting in American history” if a planned Wednesday event featuring Feminist Frequency’s Anita Sarkeesian went forward. It’s not just that Sarkeesian, along with several women in the gaming and tech world, has been facing death threats and harassment for years now. No, it’s about the response. It’s about living in a country in which the right to carry around a weapon takes priority over the privilege of being able to stand up in a crowd and not worry about being murdered.
Dear Logan Square Uni-Cyclist And Parent of Twins Who Will Be Pelted By Rocks Riding Down Lake Street In 2015 While Riding To The Conservatory (And Why I Moved Out of Logan And To Garfield Park)
Logan Square is a fascinating neighborhood and hasn’t really gone down a traditional gentrification cycle, mainly, I believe, because a large amount of people in the neighborhood were home owners. I used the word cycle back there to make you feel more comfortable and I used it in the singular to make you smile. Anyway, Logan Square wasn’t like Wicker Park or Old Town, which was occupied by mostly renters and the change over was much “simpler”. Some of the people, some of which I knew, should not have been home owners, and were tricked or “co-conspired” with banks to take out terrible mortgages, but a lot of the people were hard working, middle class people, many of which are still in Logan. I am not oblivious to the cycles of the city, and while I think we sometimes look at cycles as being inevitable or natural, I do think the way this city improves neighborhoods is deeply flawed and while the progress is real, it is often the other side of it that we never see, like where did everybody go? It is more whack-a-mole than it is actual progress.
When I first moved to Logan in 2001, I lived near Palmer Square, which was filled with cardboard houses and now it is filled with people doing yoga. Armitage and California was a don’t drive by zone and now it is a beer and food mecca and Armitage and Central Park had real life actual street walkers and now…that is still kind of happening. A lot has changed and almost all of it is good but the problem, and it is not really a problem for anyone but myself, but I did not own property and I don’t have a family to worry about, I ride bikes with two wheels, my stroller is both empty and imaginary in my hands as I walk down the street (and not double-wide), and as a city dweller, I came to terms with where I lived and learned how to live there. I moved around the neighborhood and found myself in a really comfortable block where I lived for 7 years and it was safe, friendly and 3 years ago, everyone started moving out, by force and by choice, and new people started moving in, renters, flippers, families.
The neighborhood, which was already safe and friendly, was now super safe and a different kind of friendly. Rents on my block went up 300 dollars on average in less than a year and if people were willing to pay it, God bless everyone, but I couldn’t justify paying more for something that was already OK for me. I didn’t need to pay more for a neighborhood so I could feel like I could safely ride my unicycle down the street without being pelted by rocks or worried that the thug guys with pit bulls at their side were going to growl at my twins (the dogs and the thugs). If I was a serious uni-cyclist like you or the parent of twins, like you, maybe I would. So instead, I moved to Garfield Park where I have gardens and room to breathe and the Conservatory and the El close by and sometimes, I have to deal with city stuff, people throwing trash on my lawn, having parties in their cars in front of my house, sounds that I can never tell our gunshots, and least of my worries, little boys on our block, smashing our pumpkins for fun. And if you ride your unicycle down Lake Street, you might be hit by rocks, and while I won’t throw one myself, I might not feel sorry for you, if you do get pelted. Just consider where you are, where you are going, and stop expecting everyone and everything to find your delights delightful. Also, I hope you have insurance and are from Canada so you can go back home and recover without going bankrupt. Do they make uni-wheelchairs? Now that would be something to see!
—Your friend’s name is Stephen Tully Dierks, right? —Yea, why? —Because on Gawker he’s being accused of raping a young female writer.
This morning my husband woke me up with a piece of news that’s been terrible for our community. News that made my heart beat so fast, first out of confusion, then embarrassment, and later sadness.
Sophia Katz, a young Canadian poet, published an essay last Sunday on Medium in which she describes—in a calm, honest, and brilliant manner—her unpleasant sexual encounter with the American writer and editor Stephen Tully Dierks. The essay was widely shared through social media, and from the semi-private forums of Alt Lit Gossip to certain circles on Twitter, people began to express their statements of anger.
In her essay, Sophia Katz not only describes how Dierks raped her, but also publicly questions how this situation is so unfortunately common in our society, this situation that the rest of us can so rarely bring ourselves to denounce with such strength. In We Don’t Have to Do Anything, Katz recounts the days she spent visiting New York some months ago, and how from the very first day, she felt pressured to have sex with Dierks. The account of every incident is precise and detailed: first the rejection, then the psychological struggle, the pressure, and much later the resignation.
Katz had gone to “the capital of Alt Lit” with the hope of meeting the writers she admired, and to find herself among them talking about books, making friends, and feeling like she belonged to one of the most inspiring literary movements of our time. She had accepted an offer from Dierks to stay at his apartment, but once she got there, she began to feel that his intentions were about more than just giving her a place to stay.
‘No’ Always Means ‘No’
A situation like this is not rare. Our lives are filled with complicated moments and misunderstood signals. The problem in this incident is not merely that Dierks had the wrong expectations about this young woman in his apartment, but that throughout her stay, the pressure he continued to exert on her was brutal, until finally she gave in.
Months later, out of a desire to keep other woman from being subjected to similar abuse by men who take advantage of their positions of power, Katz wrote this essay.
And now Katz’s honesty has inspired other female writers to speak about their own unpleasant sexual encounters with Dierks, about sexist remarks he has made, and the sexist way he has treated women in the past. In the Alt Lit Gossip Facebook group, a young woman, who was in a relationship with Dierks until recently, expressed her solidarity with the women who were hurt by Dierks and denounced his reprehensible actions.
Alt Lit’s most shameful episode
I can’t believe what I am reading, I said to my husband. I first met Stephen Tully Dierks in 2010 when I started to read the authors that he promoted on his Pop Serial Tumblr. And when I first started to publish my poems in English, he was always there to help. He was one of the critics who most widely recommended my first book published in the United States. Last February, I walked with him on the snowy streets of New York while we laughed and joked, and I went to a party at his apartment where we danced to Lorde with so many other intoxicated people.
This past summer I invited him to participate in Rare Fiction for PlayGround, and we were working together on various projects related to young literary writers, anthologies, and a thousand other things. I can’t say I regret any of this because I always had the impression that he was a good writer, and that his method of promoting other writers had been crucial in the last four years. Nevertheless I am saddened, it angers me to the point of tears to confront some of the things that Sophia Katz points out in her essay. For example, the idea that he feels that we, female writers, should feel indebted to him for his support. Or the attitude that he does not know how to keep his hands to himself or his pants up, even if given a decisive and unequivocal ‘no’.
Young female writers spend their whole lives confronting accusations and misogynistic remarks: who did she sleep with to get here? who did she blow to get her first book published, to win her first prize, or to get a good review? All these despicable accusations are thrown at women while the men are always free to exploit their fame and privilege to chase a good fuck as if it were some trophy.
What bothers me the most is not just losing my trust in a friend, but the realization that behind the banner of Alt Lit—where there are brilliant publishing houses like Boost House and Civil Coping Mechanisms, and swaggering feminist works by Gabby Bess and Bunny Rogers, and great critiques of gender by Joshua Jennifer Espinoza, and insightful political novels by Noah Cicero and Juliet Escoria—there are still many towering barriers of gender and class to break down.
Alt Lit is synonymous with youth, respect, and hope, and we should not allow these things to be contradicted. The response to Katz’s initiative has been great, and it’s put on the table an interesting debate about gender, power, and creativity. The path that this Canadian poet has shown us is important for everyone, and I am confident that it will help us to get things to where we want them to go and not repeat past dynamics. Literature is meant to help us fight for liberty, not destroy it.
CHICAGO (CBS) — The Chicago Police department has finally acknowledged that it had purchased cell-phone interceptor devices back in 2008, raising serious privacy concerns among activists who question how they are being used.
The devices, known as IMSI Catchers and sold commercially under names like Stingray, mimic a cell phone tower and connect to mobile devices without the user’s…
About a month ago, Sophia Katz told me she was raped by a former friend and roommate of mine when she visited New York this past May. Yesterday, she published a piece chronicling the sexual abuse she experienced that week, using a pseudonym for her rapist. I shared the piece on multiple platforms and commended her bravery. I said, “This is very important, everyone should read this.” I said “We need to protect and support rape victims, defend young girls in the indie lit community against predatorial, privileged men.” Other people liked the post, shared it, added more supportive comments. But by the end of the day, there was no further discussion about it. No one asked who he is, even though he is an editor within a community we all participate in.
And then I realized, I hadn’t either.
I had felt afraid of ‘starting that war’ against him. I realized that maybe people were afraid to ask who he was because they already knew. Maybe he was someone they considered a friend. Maybe identifying him as a rapist made them uncomfortable and sad. Maybe they didn’t believe it.
I lived with this person for a year. I listened to the way he spoke about his exgirlfriend after she broke up with him. I listened when he told me he “didn’t see the point of hanging out with any of his female friends” because at the end of the day he doesn’t get to fuck them. I pulled my piece from his magazine that he had solicited me for because I no longer wanted to support the career of a casual misogynist.
We shouldn’t be afraid to discuss this publicly when Sophia has been brave enough to call out her abuser in a community where he has immense support and friendship. Stephen Tully Dierks should not be shielded because he is or was our friend. We should hold our friends as accountable as we hold everyone else, if not more.
Having to cajole someone into sleeping with you doesn’t mean you had consent. Especially if you had power over them (the ability to kick them to the curb in an unfamiliar city, for example).
To all the men out there: Read Katz’s story. Don’t just admonish Stephen, push yourself further. Think about your own past. Think about what consent has meant to you in the past and what it means to you now. Look at the standards you’ve set for yourself — were they enough? Are they enough? Do you need to hold yourself and others to a higher standard?
Trigger warning: This post contains explicit language concerning sexual assault.
We grew up in the YCA community. We attended Louder Than a Bomb, Wordplay, and Check the Method. Our peers at YCA became some of our best friends, the adults became our mentors. YCA was a gathering space for people across the city. A place where we learned to speak to each other, get to know each other, love, support, and respect each other’s differences. YCA was home, a place where we could be honest about ourselves. YCA encouraged us to speak up about difficult issues in our lives—from struggles with our families, to our developing sexualities, and violence in our communities. We never imagined that YCA would foster a culture of silence, replicating the same violence they raised us to fight against.
In the summer of 2013, we started hearing several conversations about sexual violence in the spoken word poetry community. At the National Poetry Slam, we heard tales of people hissing at a poet onstage who was known to be an abuser. At local poetry events in Chicago, we heard poems about sexual violence within the poetry community. In August, we read a Facebook post that named Roger Bonair-Agard as a rapist. This came as a shock to many of the young people who were mentored by him. People didn’t know how to react. Many conversations were held in private. As a community leader, people expected YCA to address the issue publicly, especially as an employer of Roger. That never happened.
In October, a small group of eight young teaching artists in Chicago gathered to discuss their concerns. After sharing our mixed feelings, we decided to brainstorm a list of demands that would shape the type of poetry community we wanted to create. These demands included ways for YCA to create a safer space by establishing a code of conduct for mentors and teaching artists, hiring a counselor to be available at YCA programs, and steps for taking action when breaches of safety occur. When we tried to schedule another meeting to finish the list of demands, we were unable to find a time that worked for everyone. Suddenly, all communication in the group went silent for months. At the end of December, we were finally able to meet again with a smaller group. We decided to write a letter accompanying the list of demands, both of which we sent out in February.
We sent the letter and list of demands to Rebecca Hunter, Executive Director of YCA and Kevin Coval, the organization’s Artistic Director. Over twenty poets signed onto the letter, including current and former YCA employees and students, along with other members of Chicago’s poetry community. We demanded YCA release a public statement by the end of Louder Than A Bomb in March and organize some sort of community event, such as a reading or workshop that addressed the issue of sexual assault.
We received two email responses from Hunter. She explained that YCA decided not to renew Roger’s contract. They sought out legal advice and did not report the allegations to the police because minors were not involved. They hired two circle keepers, who facilitated a closed meeting with members of YCA’s staff in February, over half a year after the allegations surfaced. In the emails, Hunter emphasized that YCA was keeping their process internal, with intentions to open up the conversation in the future.
After more silence from YCA, we sent a follow up letter in late March, detailing our dissatisfaction with their lack of a public response. After threatening to go to the media if a public statement was not released, Kevin and Rebecca met with us in the spring. At the meeting, Kevin and Rebecca stated that they are the only two people with all of the information regarding this situation. We told them that the perpetual silence and consolidation of information made them resemble the kind of institution they had raised us to interrogate.
Rebecca asked us outright if we thought YCA knew about Roger’s behavior beforehand. Given Kevin’s considerable prominence in the national poetry scene, Roger’s history of allegations stretching back at least a decade from Chicago, to Michigan, to New York, and perhaps beyond, and the fact that we had heard of Roger’s inappropriate behavior even years before, we found it very hard to believe that Kevin was not aware. They assured us of their prior ignorance.
They also claimed that the survivors did not want the allegations made public. However, we’ve been in contact with a survivor who told us that this is not true. Hunter also claimed that YCA contacted their partners to inform them of the situation. A few weeks later, we came across a Facebook post that showed Roger inviting a teacher to an LTAB poetry slam event at the Juvenile Temporary Detention Center. At the end of the meeting, they once again assured us that they intended to open up the conversation to the community in the future.
In late June we were contacted about a second staff meeting being held and facilitated by circle keepers to discuss Roger and steps for moving forward and possibly involving the community. At the end of the meeting the development of a statement and comprehensive organizational response was again promised. This meeting was the first YCA directors had held with staff since the initial one in February. Only two staff members were present.
To this day, Young Chicago Authors has made no public acknowledgement of the fact that they employed a person accused of being a serial rapist over the course of several years. They have taken no public responsibility. Anything that could be considered transparency has come only as a result of our repeated inquiry. Friends of ours and mentees of Roger do not know what happened, they just know that something happened. Many of them have expressed doubt at the accusers, and maintained their serious emotional attachment to Roger, even while acknowledging the fact that he should take responsibility for what happened. Roger continues to find work in the city, to show up to events, and be awarded on a local and national level for his work.
When sexual violence happens, there is a veil of silence that often permeates the whole community. Sometimes it comes out of respect for the survivors, or confusion. Very often, the silence is perpetrated by those who would be held accountable for the violence. It is very easy for the latter to co-opt and benefit from the former. The crossroads of this tension is where we find ourselves. We do not want to harm the survivors. We want to end the silence around sexual assault in our community, a small step in ending sexual assault in all communities.
I, emanuel vinson, am responsible for the release of this statement
"The miracle of this novella is that Johnson manages to create a character that allows us—through Robot’s own attempts to come to terms with what it means to be human—to reflect on our own humanity without being heavy handed about it."
An anonymous e-mailer threatened to blow up a bomb at the Game Developers Choice Awards this past March unless the hosts rescinded an award recognizing feminist critic Anita Sarkeesian, the organizers of the event have confirmed to Kotaku.
CHICAGO (CBS) — Meteorologists don’t take much stock in predictions from the Old Farmer’s Almanac, which is calling for a frigid winter season, but there are more scientific signs that Chicago would see a wild one in 2014-15.
The 2013-14 winter went down as one of the worst in Chicago’s history, both in terms of the amount of snow and wicked cold.
How many times do you see that breach of conduct (the rules established by your AP book) in televised media? Also when is it OK to spread a alleged rumor or was it all just a "curse" made by 24hr news? Just curious here.
The majority of news on the ol’ picturebox just sucks. It sucks a lot. (As you seem to know.)
I think we can aim for a higher standard lol
I feel like there’s a large chunk of audience who only gets their news from one or two sources. And if those one or two sources happen to only be on television, they’re missing out on any chance to get a good look of what’s actually happening. Right?
So yeah, it seems really easy to take advantage of your viewers when they don’t read multiple news sources/worldviews. I think the root problem here is education, most high schools don’t seem to teach a media literacy class, but that’s an entirely different conversation, and doesn’t cover the fact that MSNBC and Fox are shady as hell.
So yeah, that should not be the bar game journalists, or those looking to root out corruption in game journalism, should shoot for.
When is it okay to spread an alleged rumor? Ethically or legally? Defamation cases are monumentally different with celebrities than non-celebs.
So question one question: are they a celeb? You can get away with more if they are, especially if you use the word “allegedly” in the sentence as much as possible, and it can’t be proven you’re purpose is to ruin their good name.
Another question: what’s the source? I think I talked about sources enough in my #GamerGate ramblings.
Right now, Vivid Entertainment is claiming they have an Iggy Azalea sex tape. So what will most media outlets do? They’ll share the story, use very non-commital terms in the body of the text, and let Vivid take the fall of this is untrue.
But! I have not seen the Associated Press write anything for this. Unless they obtain proof that it’s actually her (Vivid claims to have passed around stills), they probably won’t.
All of this live outside of whether it’s ethical from a “human being” standpoint though.
It probably isn’t.
Regardless, it seems unethical to make unconfirmed/shady accusations or spread rumors when your intention is to uphold journalistic integrity, which is what happened at the beginner of #GamerGate.
Alright. Sounds reasonable enough. But in that case, what do you propose #gamergate supporters do about the various articles still being written by journos that throw strawman accusations of misogyny & everyone being a cis/male/whatever? Shit like that still shows up; fuck I saw one from TechCrunch right now, and a lot of it misrepresents or flat out attacks us to defend your journos & portray them as innocent victims. We don't like that at all. We honestly don't trust you guys right now.
I can’t speak on all the journalism that’s out there. There’s some good stuff, there’s some shit.
I think people, readers in particular, should be able to call out the bullshit that comes across their computer screen. Bombarding an author seems excessive, especially when a small minority might jump on the bandwagon and turn the conversation abusive (I’ve been too busy working to follow events lately, but this has seemed to lessen significantly). There’s a comments section. There are always emails listed to send criticism to.
Probably it’s best to ignore those articles. Instead of criticizing those you think are getting it wrong, lift the few articles you think are getting it right.
For everything, there is a news cycle which will inevitably churn the facts and rumors in a blender and make them one big discernible smoothie that may or may not have kale in it. The more you feed the blender, the longer it’s gotta run. So don’t feed the blender, I guess.
One of the thing that’s hampered journalists and gamers alike is the speed of the internet.
Had journalists slept on their articles that sounded “anti-gamer” an extra day or two, they may have been able to communicate in a more equal and understanding tone.
Similarly, had the beginnings of GamerGate not been based off what turned out to be false assumptions, had there not been a chorus of abusive trolls, the mainstream media may have picked up on more than bad generalizations.
Hopefully one side figures out how to completely ignore the other side for a few months.