There are just 2 things I want to say about the hounding of Zoe Q.
Zoe is a games developer whose ex-boyfriend decided, after the acrimonious end of their relationship, to publish a long blog, plus reams of chat logs, accusing her of cheating on him with a number of other people in the industry. One of these was a games journalist at Kotaku.
In the wake of this, 4Chan users decided to hack her blog and post her address there. Others have been sharing naked photographs of her. She has been bombarded with Twitter messages and posts accusing her of “sleeping her way to the top”, plus the usual how-dare-you-say-this-is-sexist-you-cunt stuff.
First, what the actual holy hell is this. Why has rape-gif-loving 4Chan rebranded itself as the supporting cast of the Scarlet Letter, or some meme-obsessed outcrop of the Iranian morality police? And why can’t people see how weird that is?
Second, even the framing of how this is being reported and discussed is sexist. Welcome to 2014, when many people work in the same field as their sexual partner and the world fails to end. There are two problems with the “Zoe slept her way to the top” narrative everyone is using to justify their intrusive harassment of a successful woman. The first is that it isn’t true: Kotaku’s editor Stephen Totilo interrupted his holiday to say that his journalist wasn’t having a relationship with Zoe at the time that he covered her game.
The other is this: why is it only women who can use sex to their advantage? Why is no one saying “Wow, guys, can’t believe that guy slept with Zoe so she would give him exclusives about her game”? Oh right, it’s because of sexism.
This reminds me of the endless hordes who would turn up to justify the harassment of Anita Sarkeesian by insisting that she “scammed” people by openly asking them for money to make the Tropes vs Women videos. Do not fool yourself: no one here is really worried about “saving games journalism”. Games journalism has waaaaaaaaaaaay bigger problems that whether an indie developer slept with a journalist. The continuing criminal under-rating of Dead or Alive: Beach Volleyball, for one.
It’s a bitter irony that some of the people involved in this latest harassment campaign are probably regulars over at r/atheism, because this is a story as old as time: men finding a justification for pruriently policing the sexuality of women. Congratulations, fedora-guys! You are just like every religious patriarch who ever punished a woman and claimed it was in the service of God! What better chaser for your selfish sadism than a side-order of righteous indignation.
You’ll notice I haven’t used Zoe’s full name here, or published this on my work site. That’s because this is a systematic attempt to smash her reputation and make her life all about this horrible shit that happened to her, rather than anything else she’s done. I’ll be deleting this post in a week.