There has been a lot of upset recently on Gamergate’s side in regards to a series of tweets made by Anita Sarkeesian on Oct 24th, 2014.
“We need to seriously address connections between violence, sexism and toxic ideas of manhood before boys and men commit more mass shootings.” [Link]
“Not a coincidence it’s always men and boys committing mass shootings. The pattern is connected to ideas of toxic masculinity in our culture.” [Link]
“Mass shootings are one tragic consequence of a culture that perpetuates toxic ideas of masculinity. This is how patriarchy can harm men too.” [Link]
Many have taken her words as blaming the recent tragic school shooting in Seattle on masculinity/males. However, this is not accurate.
In each of her tweets she uses the words toxic masculinity. However, she is not using the word “toxic” separately as a describer. Instead, “toxic masculinity” is an existing term. This term is not very popularized and seems to be mostly used in feminist circles. So, while it is relatively unknown to most, resulting in the consequent misinterpretations, this is a term that Sarkeesian herself would be familiar with and comfortable using.
What is toxic masculinity?
Toxic masculinity is “the socially-constructed attitudes that describe the masculine gender role as violent, unemotional, sexually aggressive, and so forth.” [Link]
With this description in mind, it changes Sarkeesian’s words from blaming “masculinity” to blaming “society’s reinforcement of negative masculine traits.” This is further evidenced in one of her above tweets “This is how patriarchy can harm men too.”
To summarize, she is not blaming “men” in particular, she is blaming society’s “definition of what a man should be.”
Another popular criticism is the view that she is taking advantage of the school shooting to publicize her own agenda.
I suppose this would depend on what you believe her agenda is.
Sarkeesian herself had made no connections between the school shooting and Gamergate until she had been on the receiving end of many negative comments due to her tweets. Perhaps not all, but definitely the majority, of the tweets were from Gamergate supporters who had taken offense. It’s not hard to see the implications between her accusations of “toxic masculinity” behind the school shooting and her accusations of misogyny towards Gamergate. However, in the end, it was still implications and not a direct comparison. Perhaps it was a set up? Then it was a set up that Gamergate ran into on their own. But it was not strictly a Gamergate-related agenda until Gamergate turned it into one.
Everyone should keep in mind that outside of the recent Gamergate movement, Sarkeesian has always been foremost a feminist media critic. She has made her career in criticizing negative male/female stereotypes in popular culture. This is nothing new and it’s likely she would’ve commented on the school shooting regardless of Gamergate. It is strictly up to personal opinion whether you believe that commenting on the school shooting to promote her feminist agenda is wrong.
Keep it mind that this could also go the other way. It is almost 100% guaranteed she would have still garnered negative feedback for her comments outside of the Gamergate movement. Even before GG, many of her views and criticism have not always been well-received. It is impossible to blame all negativity strictly on Gamergate. A critic will always have their own critics.