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A tale of two feminists

Anita Sarkeesian and Laci Green may seem similar, but interaction with cultural opponents has led them in very different directions

A tale of two feminists

Green, Maldonado, and White (Illustration by Krieg Barrie)

Editor’s note: Allies often share a common worldview, but Francis Schaeffer wrote of the need for Christians to gain “co-belligerents,” people of different worldviews who will battle alongside us against totalitarian forces. This article will introduce WORLD readers to a world, unfamiliar to many, that contains adversaries but also co-belligerents.

Anita Sarkeesian and Laci Green: both left-wing feminists, both members of Time’s “30 Most Influential People on the Internet” (2015 and 2016), both with YouTube prominence. Similar at first glance, but one has chosen to continue in fierce partisanship and the other has met with her critics and found some common ground. Their contrasting routes show that in American culture we have an alternative to civil war.

Anita Sarkeesian, now 34, is a Canadian-American of Iraqi Armenian descent. In 2009 she founded the website Feminist Frequency to “make feminist theory more accessible.” She wrote articles and created YouTube videos in a series called “Tropes vs. Women” that criticized media through “a feminist sociological lens.” She gained notoriety in 2012 when she launched a Kickstarter campaign with the goal of raising $6,000 to examine male dominance in video games: She received $160,000. Starting in 2013 she sat in front of a camera and explained that video games from Mario to Bayonetta were implicitly misogynist and harmful to women everywhere.

Laci Green, now 28, first appeared on YouTube around 2008 as a militant atheist from a Mormon background, though still in her teens. She then shifted her focus to sex education, saying Mormons had repressed her and she wanted toleration for promiscuity, homosexuality, and abortion. Her videos gained patronage from Discovery News and Planned Parenthood. In 2014, MTV recruited her to host a YouTube channel, “Braless,” to discuss pop culture from a Sarkeesian-like perspective. The channel gained over a million subscribers and ran for two years. In 2016, The New York Times declared her “the sex-ed queen of YouTube.”

By 2016 both Sarkeesian and Green had firm reputations as social justice warriors (SJWs). Sarkeesian declared, “Everything is sexist, everything is racist.” Green announced, “Everything is problematic!” Gamers reacted angrily to Sarkeesian’s assault on their favorite characters and franchises. She and Green became targets of a group of anti-SJW YouTubers known as the “Skeptic Community”: Sarkeesian felt so harassed that she fled her home.

Twitter

Chris Ray Gun and Green (Twitter)

Gamers who objected to how Sarkeesian and other feminists treated them included Carl Benjamin (online name: Sargon of Akkad) and Chris Maldonado, who called himself Chris Ray Gun. (See sidebar below, “Meet the anti-SJW ‘skeptics.’”) Most were not conservative, but they disparaged and mocked feminism, Black Lives Matter, and the LGBT movement because they saw them as a religion and “privilege” as a secular form of original sin. Some SJW YouTubers struck back and tried to silence them, but the Skeptics’ videos debunking or mocking the SJWs received many more views and likes than the videos they targeted.

For a long time both Sarkeesian and Green avoided and blocked their critics. Following the election of Donald Trump, both posted videos expressing their despair and anger at the event. In February 2017 Green announced she would take a break from YouTube. She posted nothing on her own channel for a few months. She appeared on other channels, most notably in March engaging in a livestream conversation with Blaire White, a transgender conservative. In April Chris Ray Gun posted a smiling photo of himself with Green.

SJWs across the internet reacted with shock and horror: How could Green, a public face of feminism and social justice on the internet, consort with their enemies? Hit pieces on internet outlets condemned Green’s “betrayal”—and outrage became a firestorm when word spread that Green was actually dating Chris Ray Gun. Critics said she should not date vile folks like him, “not even if you like them. [Obscenity] your feelings.” Another tweet attacked making friends with antifeminists: “Far more productive to befriend someone at YouTube who could delete all their channels.”

Rich Fury/Invision/AP

Green (Rich Fury/Invision/AP)

Green argued back that discourse and civility are vital to a free society. (See “Swords into ploughshares” below.) On the skeptic side, some doubted Green’s motivations but most embraced her. In June at VidCon, an Anaheim, Calif., gathering of YouTubers of all descriptions, Green came face to face with her former nemesis, Carl “Sargon” Benjamin: They hugged for a photo Sargon shared on Twitter, to the shock and outrage of millions.

The next day, when Sarkeesian appeared on a “Women Online” panel, Sargon, Chris Ray Gun, and other skeptics sat in the front row, planning—if Sarkeesian behaved respectably—to give her a standing ovation. But when she noticed Sargon and others, she panicked and texted security, claiming she felt “unsafe” and “threatened” by them. When a questioner asked why they needed to keep talking about harassment, Sarkeesian said “a notorious harasser of mine … a garbage human” was in the front row.

Sargon shouted that he just wanted to talk. Sarkeesian replied, “Whatever, dude.” Later, Sarkeesian claimed Sargon and the other “Skeptics” had come there solely “to put [her] on edge.” She said they could not conceive what it was like to be a woman in a “deeply misogynistic culture” and still “keep fighting.” Skeptics and other anti-feminists criticized Sarkeesian, as did moderate feminists like Liana Kerzner: She said Sarkeesian’s fans were guilty of all the things she accused Sargon and his fans of, and that she herself had received harassment from both sides.

Taylor Hill/Getty Images

Sarkeesian (Taylor Hill/Getty Images)

Some other peacemaking attempts were unsuccessful. Franchesca Ramsey, host of the YouTube channel “Decoded,” said she wanted dialogue and met with Skeptics Gregory Fluhrer and Andy Warski at VidCon—but then mocked and disparaged both on a podcast. They produced response videos, and Green tweeted sympathy to Fluhrer. In retrospect, Green and Sarkeesian until 2017 appeared to belong to the same camp, but Sarkeesian demanded a social revolution in the Catherine MacKinnon tradition while Green emphasized personal empowerment (think Camille Paglia). Green discussed male rape victims, male circumcision, and even male sexual pleasure: Those topics, taboo to orthodox feminists, are more commonly subjects within the men’s rights movement. Green’s discussion of forgiveness in relation to Sargon revealed attitudes a person without something vaguely resembling a Christian upbringing was unlikely to formulate.

Their ideologies led to different personal routes. Sarkeesian cut herself off from the opportunity to make new relationships and learn new perspectives, while Green made new friends and gained a new boyfriend. It seems that not all battles are left vs. right, or even religion vs. secularism. Some people act as real human beings interested in dialogue, while others become heartless ideologues, at least for a time—but God can still change them.

Clarification: Liana Kerzner describes herself as a “sex-positive feminist” who has criticized Anita Sarkeesian for years and considers Feminist Frequency more damaging than the anti-feminist side.


(YouTube)

Meet the anti-SJW ‘skeptics’

They’re not religious (most are atheists) or necessarily conservative (several lean to the left even on economic issues). Some are vulgar, uncouth, and aggressive. Yet, these skeptics fight for freedom from progressive insanity. Here’s a quick look at seven of them:

Carl Benjamin (Sargon of Akkad): Benjamin uploaded his first video in 2013 and quickly gained a following for his critiques of feminism and progressivism, along with his discussions of historical and cultural topics, such as the spread of Islam. His YouTube channel has more than 700,000 subscribers: An atheist who rarely attacks religion, he lives in England with his wife and child.

Dave Cullen (Computing Forever): Dave Cullen’s channel originally emphasized reviews of computers and smartphones, and Cullen himself was a fan of the New Atheists. Over time he commented more and more on social justice progressivism and men’s rights. Though still an atheist, he now says Christianity has served a good and important role in civilization.

Gregory Fluhrer (Armoured Skeptic): A former Catholic, Fluhrer is a moderate liberal with a mellow tone who has atheistic leanings but became disillusioned with the Atheism Plus movement when he saw it turning atheism into a rigid ideology. June Lapine is his girlfriend.

T.J. Kirk (The Amazing Atheist): Kirk lives in Louisiana and professes to have never been religious, even in his traumatic childhood. For a decade he has attacked creationism and religion, but opposed secular political correctness with equal vigor. His channel has more than 1 million subscribers.

June Lapine (Shoe On Head): The child of Italian Catholic parents, June Lapine twice voted for Barack Obama but became frustrated and angry at SJW fear-mongering and collectivism. She started her YouTube channel to voice her complaints but takes a lighter tone than many other skeptics.

Chris Maldonado (Chris Ray Gun): Maldonado, born in the Bronx to Catholic Puerto Rican parents, professes never to have believed in God. A liberal who supported Bernie Sanders in 2016, he mocks SJWs and campus “snowflakes” and has issued a series of parody videos called “Social Justice: The Musical.” He has more than 400,000 subscribers, lives in Los Angeles, and dates Laci Green.

Blaire White: White transitioned to female as an adult after being a rape victim and embracing SJW politics. White now identifies as a conservative and says transgenderism is a mental disorder, only two genders exist, and those who encourage minors to transition are guilty of child abuse. White’s sassy, blunt delivery pulls in more than 350,000 subscribers on YouTube. —D.G.A.


Swords into ploughshares

With all the news in 2017 of social justice warriors trying to silence opponents and college administrators sometimes complicit in that, the encouraging news is that prominent SJW Laci Green chose peace over war—and if she can, others can too.

On May 11, Green posted a new video on her YouTube channel. She said, “You may have noticed that I’ve been talking to and hanging out with some antifeminist YouTubers. This has apparently really confused people. After all, I, Laci Green, am the very pinnacle of a social justice warrior. … I’ve recently found anti-SJW channels that are well cited and reasoned. … It’s beneficial for me to listen and consider another perspective; it helps me learn. So I decided to reach out to some. … I was pleasantly surprised! People have been pretty kind to me.” Green said she now opposed “campaigns to get people’s Twitters banned, book deals canceled, talks canceled. … We should address things head-on, through open dialogue.”

On June 24, Green posted two videos to Twitter that called her meeting with Carl Benjamin (aka Sargon of Akkad) “a story about forgiveness.” She said, “Carl is the person that has contributed the most to my very human pain. … Last night he held me and apologized, told me why he was sorry, demonstrated a real understanding of the pain that he had caused me, and a willingness to stop doing that. … That he was able to do that in such a genuine, authentic way, and also apologize on Twitter … makes me really happy!”

She added, “But more than happy, it makes me feel like I can … oh, God … [I’m] such a baby. … It makes me feel like I can heal, forgive, move on. … For me and my life, forgiveness is very important. It’s central to who I am. It’s central to how I live my life. It’s central to my mental and emotional health and my happiness in this world, and I needed to be able to forgive him, and he finally gave me what I needed to start doing that.” —D.G.A.

David Green Ahmanson

David Green Ahmanson

Comments

  • CovenantWord
    Posted: Mon, 01/15/2018 06:15 pm

    Wow. Have to think about this one. I am reminded that Nehemiah had to face down both vicious opposition (Neh. 4:7-8) and insidious infiltration (Neh. 6:1-2). I would suggest, then, that attacks be confronted with honorable strength and rapprochement be conducted with watchful integrity.

  • VolunteerBB
    Posted: Tue, 01/16/2018 02:12 pm

    If you need the other person to forgive you first or apologize or "deserve" your forgiveness, then you still need work.  Forgiveness isn't a feeling, it is an act of obedience...the good feelings come next.  I am glad she is progressing and I pray for all of them and their salvation.

  • Brendan Bossard's picture
    Brendan Bossard
    Posted: Wed, 01/17/2018 01:50 pm

    This has lessons for everyone, including me. Thank you for publishing this column.

  • Midwest preacher
    Posted: Sun, 01/21/2018 06:08 am

    I would say we can certainly afford to be kind to all people.  We can certainly have dialogue.  We can discuss in a rational way and we should.  But we cannot allow ourselves to make compromises where the Word of God will not allow it.  As I often say,  "It is not love to tell someone they may safely do what God has said must not be done."  I think the Bible calls it "speaking the Truth in Love".  

  • J Lee Harshbarger's picture
    J Lee Harshbarger
    Posted: Wed, 01/24/2018 09:32 pm

    This article is encouraging!  I get tired of people yelling at each other instead of listening to each other.  I particularly like what Laci said here:  "Green said she now opposed 'campaigns to get people’s Twitters banned, book deals canceled, talks canceled. … We should address things head-on, through open dialogue.'"  Yes, let's dialogue!