Anita Sarkeesian Forced to Cancel Utah State Event Over Threats of Massacre

Anita Sarkeesian, creator of the well-known video series Tropes vs. Women, was forced to cancel a speaking engagement at the Utah State University’s Center for Women and Gender this morning.

Sarkessian and several others were emailed and threatened with a mass shooting if the event was not canceled. Tweets from Sarkessian later confirmed this to be true with her stating that she canceled the event out of security concerns and the refusal of police to prevent attendees from bringing firearms.

There have been excerpts from the letter released by the Standard-Examiner and they are very alarming. The author of the letter is unknown at this point, but is said to be a student at Utah State. In the letter there are claims of having “a semi-automatic rifle, multiple pistols and a collection of pipe bombs.” The letter also states that the intent is to carry out a “Montreal Massacre-style attack” if Sarkeesian and other speakers attend the event.

“Feminists have ruined my life, and I will have my revenge” is stated in the threatening letter, which strikes a chilling similarity between what was said to be the motivation of the engineering student that was behind the 1989 mass shooting in Montreal’s Ecole Polytechnique. The shooter in that case targeted women only and claimed 14 victims before ending his own life.

This isn’t the first threat to Sarkessian’s safety, however. She was targeted previously when the organizers of the Game Developers Choice Awards confirmed that they had received threats against Sarkeesian and those attending the event if organizers did not revoke the award.  In August of 2012 she was also forced to leave her own home after receiving violent death threats.

There seems to be a growing epidemic of women in the gaming industry being targeted and harassed, especially over the past three months.

Both Zoe Quinn and Brianna Wu have received threats and harassment in the form of personal information being shared online and threats. They also happen to openly speak out about the roles of women in video gaming and are notable figures in the “Gamergate” controversy.

Those with the International Game Developers Association are speaking out against the harassment of female game developers and attribute it to the change in balance that more female game makers promote.

It is safe to say that these recent threats are not going to be the last made towards women in the video game industry or those that support them. Now the question becomes: how can we keep these women safe in a sea of “internet trolls” that are bent on destroying them and what they are trying to accomplish?

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