On #Gamergate: The Right, The Left, The Incomprehensible Ramblings

FAKE!TRIGGER WARNING!: This post contains the thoughts of one who has all the knowledge of both the Greek philosopher Socrates and the fantasy hero John Snow. (i.e. nothing) Your mind may be blown.

(it probably won’t be, unless poorly structured stream-of-consciousness essays are wont to do that to you)

A bit different from the usual topic today, but before we go back to the Troped! saga towards the end of the week I wanted to get some of my other worthless thoughts out. The SRS BIZNESS hat was pulled out of the closet and dusted off while writing, but I’m not wearing it because there’s a spider living on the inside. (#metaphor!)

So.

A few years ago when I was at uni I used to come back to my lovely home city of Cambridge semi-frequently on the train. Usually a crowded train, as the Manchester to London and London to Cambridge lines have a lot of traffic. Even when I used routes that bypassed London to save money, the trains were often either completely packed or full enough that I’d have to choose between sitting next to a stranger, or sitting on the floor by the door.

Self-conscious as I was, and to an extent still am, I usually chose the floor.

On one occasion I believe I was travelling between Doncaster and Peterborough when a gentleman perhaps a few years older than me also chose to sit in the space between the rows of seats, by the doors where you’d be blasted with cold air every time the train reached a stop and more people got on. I don’t remember much about him, or how we got to talking, only that I’m pretty sure he was a returning soldier, and that at some point in the conversation that ensued between us he mentioned that he and his family were big fans of Margaret Thatcher.

“Oh! Uh… well, you know… me and, uh, people I know are, uh… very, uh, Liberal, so… we don’t… uh, probably wouldn’t… think, uh… be big fans of, um, Margaret Thatcher… you know?”

(my response, from what I remember, was probably along those near-incomprehensible lines)

Hearing him say what he did made me nervous. Not because I thought anyone who liked Thatcher was a dangerous lunatic or anything, but because I had no idea what to say to such a person. I was brought up in liberal Cambridge, the child of liberal academics, the friend of children whose parents were liberal academics, in schools staffed by liberal academics—and had then gone to university at liberal Manchester. Up until that point, I don’t think I had ever met a real life Conservative; at least not knowingly.

Not a British one at any rate, my American cousin’s in-laws were of the ‘Harry Potter is EVIL’ ilk and I’d met them once, but I’d figured things were different… in America!

(#BanditKeith)

I’d heard of these strange beings, of course. Seen portrayals of them on TV; seen them on the news. I found myself thinking something along the lines of ‘well, of course there are people like that in the world’ as if your average conservative Briton was as far removed from me as some Islamic fundamentalist burning American flags in the Middle East, or a southern Baptist Minister from the U.S. who thought he could heal cancer by putting his hand on a patient’s shoulder and yelling about Jesus. When we parted ways I immediately tried to put him out of my mind, because to me Conservatives just didn’t really exist the way people I knew did. They were more distant problems than people.

So actually meeting one made me even more scared than I usually was meeting strangers.

A few days ago I was trawling through my twitter feed, which contains both pro and anti-Gamergate people. I’ve been pro since its inception, but the personal philosophy I’ve developed since the days of hiding from strangers on locomotive-floors is one that disdains blocking people out just for having different opinions to me. (only when they become too annoying for me to listen to anymore do I stop following them). Someone I follow who, to give him credit, had given genuine thought and consideration to both sides of Gamergate and come out Anti retweeted another person who said something along these lines:

‘Gamergate is a Conservative movement, begun by those with a right-wing agenda. That’s not necessarily a bad thing in itself, but its proponents shouldn’t try to pretend otherwise. It’s blatantly anti-change.’

I’m not a gamer. But experiencing what SJWs have done in fandom circles has made me sympathise with those fighting against the root cause of the movement—the influx into the community of those pushing a third-wave feminist agenda, because for a lot of people it did ruin fandom. It ruined friendships. It ruined the fun. It made a hobby everyone could enjoy as long as they were respectful of others into a den of word-policing, thought-policing, dog-piling, and constant suspicion as to the motivations behind every single comment, fanfic, essay and art posted. That’s why I support Gamergate.

And yet, when I read those tweets, the very first thing that popped into my head was ‘Oh no, I can’t support a Conservative movement!’—which I think was probably the point of the tweets.

Now, I don’t really think Gamergate is a Conservative movement, though I think most Conservative gamers who are aware of the conflict are pro-Gamergate, and the Anti-s are probably all Liberal. It’s more an everyone-who-isn’t-SJW movement. Of course, gamers have their Conservative opponents as well, they just oppose modern video games for different reasons. Saying it’s Conservative because it’s anti-change is taking the meaning of the word ‘conservative’ literally—if Conservatives were completely anti-change UKIP wouldn’t exist and no one would be picketing abortion clinics.

But that thought, that ‘I’m a Liberal, and thus everything Conservative is POISON to me!‘ thought, has stayed in my head, causing me to write the following pretentious self-reflection that by this point people have probably clicked the back button on.

Is a person’s commitment to ‘the Right’ or ‘the Left’ more important than what they actually believe in?

Who gets to decide what constitutes ‘the Right’ and ‘the Left’; the majority of people who identify with those respective groups? If you’ve considered yourself a member of one of those groups your entire life, and then get told you’re thinking like the other because you hold one or two beliefs that the majority of your side doesn’t… where do you go? I mean, I kind of don’t like the term ‘moderate’. It’s like you’re saying, ‘yeah, I’m a Liberal, but only a half-arsed Liberal’… though that probably describes me quite well…

I enjoy listening to and reading works from anti-SJWs. Some are like me, people who up until 3rd wave feminism started grabbing hold of ‘the Left’ were fully on board with everything ‘the Left’ endorsed. Others are Conservatives, of varying beliefs. This has created internal conflict. I’ve had moments where I’m reading an essay or listening to a YouTube video and been laughing at SJW hysteria… and suddenly the author of the article I’m laughing at will come out anti-marriage equality. Or come out in support of UKIP. Or turn out to be pro-life. And I’m sitting there thinking ‘AHH! Stop reading now!’ as if I’d really thought that everyone who doesn’t believe in things I don’t believe in must therefore logically believe in the things I do believe in.

A while ago, when Atheism+ and its proponents were first gathering momentum, someone (I believe Richard Carrier) said something along the lines of ‘If I’m going to a separation of church and state rally, I don’t want to march next to someone who hates gay people’.

And as I’m reading these Conservative authors, aren’t I thinking something along the lines of ‘If I’m liking a video in support of a pro-Gamergate video, I don’t want to be adding my vote to those of people who support UKIP!’ ?

So then I have to turn to myself and ask myself, well, what are you going to do? Never support anything because other people who support it might support things you don’t support? Because that’s pretty much a given! If I wrote some self-evident hack-job against radical Islam for murdering western journalists, would I not expect there to be fundamentalist Christians out there saying the exact same thing, and then going on to campaign against abortion?

If this were a popular blog, would there not be people who read this post, and nodded their heads until they suddenly realised, ‘wait, she’s anti-UKIP!? BACK-BUTTON NOW!’ ?

Is belief more important than public conduct? Is this not a discussion, but a war, where we have to defend psychotic bastards so long as they wear the same uniform we do? Because that’s generally not what I’ve seen from the pro-Gamergate side of the debate.

I’ve heard anti-Gamergaters slamming the other side for including ‘disclaimers’ in their videos and articles that state they are against harassment and doxxing and encourage others on our side to also be against it, ‘as if that frees them from the responsibility of those who are harassing women’ (and men, but the women are more important, of course, even those who no one at the forefront of the movement have spoken about in weeks).

What?

Are you guys serious!? Do you think these people have any control whatsoever over who uses #Gamergate, or who sends mean tweets to Zoe Quinn or whoever? Do you have control over the people on your side who are doxxing and harassing pro-Gamergaters? Do you support them? Do you really think that everyone who opposes you adheres to the same ideology or that they’d actually obey prominent people in the movement? A movement whose root cause lies in people being tired of being told what to think?

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve seen plenty of bigotry in the anti-SJW parts of the web. But I’ve also seen a shitload coming from the SJWs, because assholes aren’t defined by borders of belief and ideology—nor by gender, gender identity, race or sexual orientation. Assholes want to make other peoples’ lives miserable, and that’s it.

And though I know other 3rd wave feminists will condemn bigoted SJWs in private, in the public forum they’ll consider the issue derailing—until they demand that the other side deal with the bigots on their own teams before they engage with the feminists. (and, admittedly, vice-versa. The amount of times I’ve seen both sides decry the No-True-Scotsman fallacy while relying heavily on the inverse Appeal-to-Authority argument is headdesk-worthy)

We all learn to defend these people, as long as they’re on ‘our side’. I will not say ‘are taught’, because in many cases this is osmosis and peer pressure, not indoctrination, that shapes our actions—as I learned to accept the SJW mindset for a few months, not because anyone taught me specifically to do so; I am largely and have largely always been a lurker so I rarely communicated directly with SJWs, but because that was what everyone in fandom seemed to be doing, and I figured well; I guess that’s what we’re all doing now.

But I couldn’t stand that for too long. I may be a coward who walks the streets with a feeling in the back of my mind that Schrödinger has an entire cabal of diverse criminals at his beck and call (personally Schrodinger’s Car-Bomber and Schrodinger’s Little-Old-Lady-who-turns-out-to-be-an-Axe-Murdering-Serial-Killer have always scared me more than Schrodinger’s Rapist) and that joggers and people running to catch a bus might actually be running away from a flesh-eating monster from another dimension that has fallen through a rip in space and time into City Centre, and maybe I should be running too—but I’m not a complete sycophantic doormat.

I can agree with Conservatives.

Not on ‘issue X’ or ‘issue Y’, but with individuals who happen to identify as Conservative about things that we happen to agree on. And they can agree with me.

All during my teenage years I’d had this thought in my mind that most people on ‘the Right’ never got the full story, never talked to people on the other side of the issue, were only told lies about ‘the Left’ from propaganda-spouting snake-oil salesmen and refused to try hearing anything from another source. And to some extent I was probably right. But I’d never once considered until the SJWs started ruining the fandom experience for me by demanding we sacrificed what we wanted to talk about for what they believed should be talked about, that I might be living on the other side of the same coin.

I’ve learned—not just by rote, like you memorise various facts for GCSE, but so that I really understand—that intolerance is not a prerogative of one side alone. I sat on the floor of a crowded train four years ago and I was afraid of the man sitting opposite me; first because he was a stranger and I’m naturally nervous of all strangers, male or female; second because he liked and supported Margaret Thatcher. The first reason was fair enough, that’s my cross to bear for being a socially awkward twit. The second reason was not fair. I’ve read enough from Conservatives now to know they’re not necessarily any of the things ‘the Left’ stereotypes them as. I imagine the reverse is also true.

‘The Right’ and ‘The Left’—particularly the ‘far’ versions of both, are full of assholes. The centre is full of assholes too. The specific ideologies they adhere to bred some of them, but their Right/Left alignment didn’t. The rest bred themselves. All I can say is that it’s one thing to accept superficial differences of skin colour and orientation. It’s a lot harder to learn tolerance for people with beliefs in direct conflict with your own. I’m trying. I still have the ‘Immediate Back-button’ impulse, but I’m trying, because I’d like to think there are those on ‘the Right’ who are trying too.

I mean, what else are you going to do? Write off 99% of the world as shitlords or moral deviants? Because on a horse that high you’re bound to experience oxygen deprivation sooner or later. And then you’ll die. (Metaphorically, or something)

And oh, yes—

I’m not a gamer. I am a woman, and you’ll have to take my word for it because I’m too hideous to post a picture of myself. (listen and believe, remember?)

I’m not a gamer, but I support #Gamergate because I think I understand what they’re going through.

And I am Not Your Shield.

(Well, that was a needlessly dramatic and pretentious ending… I’d better add a coda in parenthesis so people don’t think I’m too much of a self-righteous twat)

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