It’s nice to see geek deities like Wil Wheaton stand up for Whedonverse actress and web series creator Felicia Day after video game blogger Ryan Perez attacked her as a “glorified booth babe,” and use the clout he has to declare sexism an affront to geek values rather than an inherent part of them. Jezebel explains:
Perez’ tweets could’ve gone unnoticed a few months ago; if the U.S. had a dollar for every bitter, ignorant dude online, we wouldn’t be in a recession. But there’s been so much rampant misogyny in the gaming industry lately that people are justifiably on edge when it comes to sexism, and Perez woke up on Sunday morning to an onslaught of Twitter followers (he had around 50 when he first tweeted at Day, now he has almost 2,500) thanks to shoutouts from people like technology reporter Veronica Belmont and Wil Wheaton, who each have way more than a million fans following them on Twitter. “I have fucking had it with idiot asshole men being shitbags to @feliciaday because they’re threatened by her creativity and success,” Wheaton tweeted. “I’m sick of idiot men giving *any* woman grief in gamer and geek culture. Enough already, we’re better than that.”
Wheaton criticized Destructoid for employing an “ignorant misogynist,” and soon, the website cut ties with Perez. “Destructoid has ended its relationship with Ryan Perez, effective immediately. We again apologize to @feliciaday and all others concerned,” the website’s editors tweeted.
Both this incident and a recent, terrific video by Jay Smooth on situations when it makes sense to violate the internet maxim not to feed the trolls and to push back against them, are clarifying:
As Jay explains here, it’s one thing to take actions that solely give trolls the negative attention that they want. It’s another to resist engaging with them even when they’re gumming up the works of the internet and making it difficult for people to go about their daily lives. When people yell in comments sections, unless their language is threatening, it’s usually enough to ban them. One fun feature of Facebook commenting is that moderators can ban people without those people knowing they’ve been banned: they can write what they want, but none of the rest of us have to see them. These types of trolls can holler fruitlessly into the void and never know why they’re not getting a response. But if trolls are trying to prevent people from doing their actual work, whether they’re trying to get a Kickstarter shut down, harassing peaceful participants in comments sections, expecting that they’ll be able to use a position of power for trolling, or launching a denial of service attack, then it makes sense to push back against them and push back publicly. I don’t really expect to be able to reach into the darkest corners of the internet and reform people, or anything. But I do think that we can deny certain kinds of trolls footholds they can use to disrupt the operations of legitimate spaces online. Weeds may have the right to grow, but not to invade and take over walled gardens. And there isn’t a certain amount of social capital the voices and views of trolls are entitled to.