The general idea press and media throw around without consequence is that whilst games might not necessarily, kinda, sorta, not-really-but-perhaps-they-do-if-only-we-can-just-
-find-the-right-evidence, is that violent video games make people violent, else the violence is normalised, else the violence desensitises the individual. In other words, if this postulation were correct there would be a measurable difference between gamers exposed to violent imagery and those who are not.
A new study, "Excessive users of violent video games do not show emotional desensitization: an fMRI study
], investigated this connection to see if it existed and to what extent that might be by scanning brain activity of the studies participants (scans record involuntary activity). Although a small sample size (c. 30 individuals), they discovered no discernible difference
between the way the groups responded to violent images "using standardized emotional pictures of positive, negative and neutral valence
". In other words, each participant is shown an image, perhaps a bunny, or broccoli, and the corresponding brain activity is recorded and cross-referenced with other individuals shown the same material. Deviance would indicate (without necessarily confirming) a potential correlation/causation link/association one way or the other.
It's important to point out here that although this debunks the myth
(so to speak) media and activists flippantly thrown around
, that violent video games normalise or desensitise individuals to real-world violence, it is not to say that violent media has no
effect; on the contrary research indicates it does, although it's an entirely short-term and temporal modification
, i.e. the state of mind players are in immediately after playing fades as they essentially come down from an emotional high and go back to their normal daily activities. Those that don't have underlying issues and predispositions not influenced by violent media
- Long-term Effects of Violent Video Games on Aggressive Behavior
- How social context influences violence-aggression relationship
- Violence against males in games doesn't count... another study that 'proves' it
- Sexist games=sexist gamers? A longitudinal study...
- Does media violence predict societal violence? (study)
- Aggression from video games 'linked to incompetence'
- The Benefits of Playing Video Games
- Guns, games and real world aggression & violence
In comments expressed during an interview with NewsWeek
, a Labour Party MP
, Chi Onwurah
, called on the UK Government to look into adopting Frances new initiative, that of adding a "Sexism" rating to games and other media, whilst conflating the demand with other "women in games" issues, as seems to be fashionable these days. It should be known that ratings in games and the way sex, the sexes, and sexuality, are represented in media are very different issues, requiring very different solutions, than employment and workplace gender-based discrimination, which the UK has half-a-dozen laws on the books to prosecute
, something an MP pushing an anti-discrimination (pro-diversity/equality etc.) agenda should know, at least were they truly concerned about the subject and not just pandering for votes. But then this is just too much of a hot-button, emotionally driven led issue for opportunists to avoid getting their sticky mitts on
Member of Parliament: "Sexualised females in games is bad".
Gamers & Industry: "But extreme violence against males is... okay? Meh, who cares, right?".
MP: "Oh but that's different because... [same tired old talking points]".
G & I: sigh */g goes back to gaming
What truly keeps women and girls out of the game industry?. The constant industry fear-mongering and sensationalised headline
. When asked, women and girls typically report their negative impressions of the industry being formed largely through negative press and media coverage, not from direct experience
. So the myth of a hostile work environments inside the games industry persists as a harmful self-fulfilling prophecy (as press and media see it).
Looking at this from the outside (sort of) it's amazing to realise just how similar this brouhaha is to what Mary Whitehouse
was advocating some 40 odd years ago. She pushed hard for, and got to a limited degree
, the same kind of legal, policy and Governmental control over freedom of expression as current-day advocates are doing, and from a similarly gynocentric, although secularly informed, non-science perspective. The only difference between then and now is this; had she had the foresight to call and make extensive use of the "F" word (8 letters across, starts with "f", ends with "m"), and accuse her detractors of demeaning, harassing and abusing her (regardless of their gender) she, and the advocacy group she headed, would have even more successful than they had
 Advocacy groups argue female game characters should not be subject to violence or sexism, whilst tacitly approving said-same against males. As direct consequence of Advocacy groups not caring about male violence they become a 'safe' medium of expression for game developers; more games are made with male protagonists committing violence against male victims, which the same Advocacy groups then argue is exclusionary to females, demanding better representation without explicitly acknowledging the context into which such female characters would be placed. Thus an infinite logic loop is created destroying the World.
 Although Mary Whiteshouse used different approaches and rationals to the same problems, much of her "sex-negative" ideas were informed by her faith and belief (Christian), both of which were easy jumping-off points for what would be considered vicious attacks by today's 'snowflake' standards, by press and media whom would often lambasted her as being "sex obsessed", obsessed with the representation of sex and morally questionable ideas on television and in cinema. Were she alive today this might not be the case (as keen observers might remark, being female is no guaranty of acceptance from any of the advocacy groups in question).
Not too sure who the European Commission
consulted before releasing "CODE OF CONDUCT ON COUNTERING ILLEGAL HATE SPEECH ONLINE
", but it appears Civil Rights lawyers weren't on the list. Had they been they would all likely have said, "erm, you can't exactly say that
" every time they came across the "illegal hate speech
" statement in the document. The Commission would naturally ask "why not, that's hateful so it's illegal, therefore 'illegal hate speech'
". And hopefully the Civil Rights lawyers would have responded with, "'hate speech' laws don't quite work like that, speech can be hateful but that doesn't automatically make it 'illegal'
What they would be trying to tell the Commission is that 'hate
' is subjective, its in the beholders eye, that they
, the target of hate, have to be able to make a reasonable argument, to reasonable persons of the Court (Jury) the speaker intended to cause them distress, alarm or concerns for their well-being or safety, else it's going to be difficult to prove the Crime absent resorting to appeals to emotion. And even if there were, the crime is in the consequences of the individuals conduct, the words spoken only have meaning relative to the act committed, absent that context, they are just words.
But then again, Google, Twitter, Facebook and Microsoft think otherwise, even though they already define violating conduct via their respective Terms of Service agreements. Which brings up a previously discussed point - engaging with Social Media, speech isn't free, its conditional
. So what exactly do they gain from this? */me dons tinfoil hat.
Laws (UK) under which 'speech' may
be deemed 'hateful conduct';
- Defamation Act 2013
- Public Order Act 1986
- Equal Pay Act 1970
- Sex Discrimination Act 1975
(& 1986) (sex/gender/marital/parental status)
- Employment Act 1989
(equal opportunities in the workplace)
- Race Relations Act 1976
- Equality Act 2010
 ordinarily, speech is harmful or hateful when its used to infringe the Rights of others. For example, if it were not possible to block or otherwise 'hide' exposure to an individual on Social Media, speech could be considered 'hateful' were it to impinge on others ability to freely enjoy use of a given platform ("for fear of harassment and abuse") - which highlights two broader issues concerning harmful conduct, that absent physical intervention or violence, it is often in the subjective eye of the beholder, and the strength of their case, rather than an objective concrete manifestation, and that speech considered harmful or hateful on Social Media, whilst not necessarily criminal, can certainly be treated as Terms of Service violations and dealt with appropriately (should behaviour escalate it then becomes an issue for the target to pursue with the Authorities).
 there doesn't appear to be any hard numbers on how great an influence the exercise of emotion has on Jurors but it is a known and studied phenomenon - Emotional Evidence and Jurors’ Judgments: the Promise of Neuroscience for Informing Psychology and Law, Unintended Consequences of Toying with Jurors’ Emotions: The Impact of Disturbing Emotional Evidence on Jurors’ Verdicts, The Emotional Juror, et al.
TL:DR (long post ahead).
Q1: Is harassment/abuse on the Internet, Social Media in particular, a problem?
A1: Not especially.
Q2: Is harassment/abuse a "systemic" problem, one that "persist(s) throughout society"?
A2: Not especially.
Current law(s) in the North America and much of Europe have for decades establish a threshold, and context, within which certain behaviour can be considered 'criminal' harassment; classically this might be a call to action from one group to act against another, or an Individual persistently sending unwanted abusive messages to another. In most cases this threshold is typically crossed when conduct intentionally or inadvertently causes alarm, distress or fear for a persons safety or well-being, irrespective as to the medium through which that might be communicated. In other words, use of the Internet to engage in criminal harassment is not afforded any greater precedence than other forms of communication.
For advocacy groups, campaigners, and alleged victims of online harassment, this presents a particular problem, they argue the Judicial process is out of touch with instant communication, that it simply cannot handle the volume or speed with which online harassment complaints occur, nor match peoples general expectations for equally speedy or voluminous 'justice', so used are they to the frenetic pace of a modern connected life. Evidence gathering and due process is just too slow.
Their solution(s) to this is largely two-fold; 1) to essentially legalise "listen and believe" by changing the emphasis of prosecution so the Court system takes claims of harassment at face value, listening to, and believing claimants over and above the accused and any counter-claim(s) that might be made; and 2) Americanise the British Legal system by instituting gendered or gynocentric legislation that's more in line with victim narratives, rather than improving the ostensibly agnostic system as it currently stands.
Both solutions are shortsighted; 'justice' is never served in an partial and biased setting, especially one that can be leveraged by vested interests or those Machiavellian enough to advocate for their own financial or political positioning based on faulty, sensationalised or misrepresented 'research'. in such an environment victims of abuse become nothing more than cheap tools to manipulate public discourse.
50% of women are misogynists...
At least according to Demos
in an (as yet fully released) update to a previous 2014 advocacy report
, "Misogyny on Twitter
", set to be published to coincide with the launch of "#ReclaimTheInternet
]*. Their latest findings? Fifty percent (50%) of women use "misogynistic" or abusive language on the Internet
(across social media especially).
The study builds on Demos’ previous research in 2014, which found that "slut" and "whore" dominate misogynistic language on Twitter, and that both male and female users are responsible for the abuse. In this 2016 research, 50 per cent of the propagators were found to be women.
Ordinarily this should be quite the revelation, but if the press release and accompanying blog post
are taken as read, the discovery appears not to have given the authors much pause for thought, being afforded no greater meaning than simply words on a page/text on-screen, so confidently do Demos continue on to reiterate what must, by now, be common public knowledge of the settled kind, that the Internet at large, Social Media in particular, is all too often too much of a "traumatic experience for women
Anywho, just a few of the thoughts on the information, in no particular order of importance;
- 1) the research (methodology of data capture/inquisition) is highly gendered in that only words typically associated with the abuse of women and girls were investigated
(cf. quote above), instances of use were ignored if the authors intent fell outside their being gender specific slurs, or otherwise could not be determined. As was the case with the "Acting like a Tough Guy: Violent-Sexist Video Games, Identification with Game Characters, Masculine Beliefs, & Empathy for Female Violence Victims
" study (and others
), this gender bias predisposes the conclusion to be favorable to the hypothesis (instead of a conclusion that arises from attempting to refuting it); that women suffer greater levels of abuse online despite the opposite being the case (as found by their own investigations as well as others
, many of them
- 2) the report frames harassment as "misogyny" in the plural sense; abuse directed at an individual women or girl is perpetrated against the entire gender. In doing so it does not acknowledge the individuals culpability in the act which, devoid of context, further affords the luxury of labelling those accused of alleged abuse "misogynists".
- 3) use of the term "misogyny" can only be described generously as fast and loose
, and to mean anything that makes a women or girl feel hurt, disparaged, upset, marginalised in some way, rather than exclusively harassed in the much stricter legal sense of being fearful of, or subject to threats to life or limb, harm or hatred, as the word implies ("hatred of women"). This grants significant generosity of interpretation to the reports authors, affording them the additional luxury of being able to conflate meanings and actions that would otherwise be completely separate issues, e.g. "you suck
" being framed as 'online violence'
in the same breath as the threats of actual harm. This loose application is further reinforced by the non-British English definition of "misogynist" that includes words of entirely different meaning and intent such that any
comment on, or opposition to, any
issue facing women and girls today can have the person labelled and shamed for doing so.
- 4) of the 6,500 individuals
"targeted", each received an average of 1.5 Tweets
 over the 23 day monitoring period
in question, or 0.065 Tweets per day
(0.065:1). For greater context;
The number of Tweets
- an estimated 300,000,000
tweets are published to Twitter each day
- or 6,900,000,000
over the same 23 day
- of that Demos collected 1,500,000
Tweets representing 0.021%
of the 23 day total.
- the harassing Tweets, of which there were 213,000
(c. 9,000/day), represents 0.003%
of the 23 day total.
The number of Users
- an estimated 320,000,000 monthly
- or 10,700,000 daily
- Demos was capturing data from an estimated pool of 250,000,000
active users over 23 days.
- in 23 days
each User averaged 27.6
- Users average 1.2
Tweets per day
The report states in the aggregate that;
Users were responsible for 650,000
earmarked tweets over the period.
- that's an average of 1.4
Tweets per User
over 23 days
- or a daily average
Tweets per User
- of the 650,000
earmarked Tweets, 33%
, or 435,500
, were flagged as "aggressive".
- which potentially came from 311,000
- which again averaged 1.4
Tweets per User over 23 days
- or again a daily average
of 0.06 per User.
However the reported data then states in the aggregate that;
- over the 23 day capture period 213,000
Tweets were specifically qualified as "aggressive".
- that were sent, over the same period, from a pool of potentially 152,000
- or 9,260
Tweets per day
- from a pool of 6,608
Users a day
- or 1.4
specifically qualified 'aggressive' Tweets per User, per 23 days
- or a daily average
specifically qualified 'aggressive' messages per User
All this content was sent, in the aggregate, to;
"targets" over the 23 day
- or 3,478
"targets" per day.
- that's 1 Target
for every 1.9
alleged aggressive Users
This essentially means the 80,000
individuals targeted over the 23 day capture period represented;
of active Users over the same period.
- or 1
in every 3125
) over 23 days.
- or 0.043
for every 135
Users daily (averaged).
And of the 213,000
qualified Tweets sent to 80,000
targets over 23 days;
- or 9,260
tweets sent to 3,478
targets per day
- each received an average 2.66
qualified tweets over the capture period,
- or an averaged 0.11
tweets per day
- which represents 0.0030%
of Twitters daily published tweets
- sent to 0.032%
Targets from a pool of 0.061%
of Twitters total daily active User
Making the chance of getting a single qualified 'aggressive' tweet;
over the 23 days period
- or 1
on any given day
- 5) the Demos report represents itself as being an investigation into Internet
harassment but gathers data relevance to words negatively associated with insults or gendered abuse targeted at women and girls - "slut", "whore" and "rape". The is necessarily exclusive of abuse directed at men and boys in such a way that use of female gendered slurs directed at men and boys still counts towards women and girls because
the slurs themselves are gendered.
- 6) the report conflates "harassment", i.e. pestering, annoying behaviour, with "criminal harassment", i.e. actions that might cause a reasonable person distress, fear or harm. One is not the other, and for the UK at least, significant protections against very specific forms of criminal harassment
are afforded to individuals though a number of long standing laws, each of which criminalise specific types of behaviours. This speaks to two additional points; the report essentially, a) advocates for an (further?) 'Americanisation
' of the British Legal system, and b) for the criminalisation of words rather than actions
, potentially legalising "listen and believe".
- 7) The broader problem addressing harassment on the Internet is largely three-fold; 1) sensationalism and misrepresentations by media and advocacy groups, 2) speed, and 3) volume .; such that Demos and other groups are often intentionally remiss to make a clear enough argumentative distinction between criminal conduct
, behaviour that necessitates legal intervention, from what is otherwise considered merely 'nuisance' or 'annoying' behaviour
, a problem perhaps better addressed at the Service Provider with tools and options that facilitate greater personal control over the Individuals experiences and interactions with others Online.
- 8) Many Service Providers already go to great lengths in providing Users the tools and options they need for greater personal control over the their individual experiences online. Coercively Obligating they then be culpable for Users ignorance of these mechanisms is not the answer (a horse can be led to water but cannot be forced to drink). Nor is lobbying Government for broad-sweeping powers, or for such authority to be granted to non-accountable, Non-Governmental Institutions, especially where doing so carries greater risks of 'political' or 'agenda' driven leverage.
* links are provided for convenience only and do not indicate support or endorsement. On this point, about the Reclaim the Internet initiative, although the following does not appear to be clarified in their literature or public facing elements, the logo used by Reclaim The Internet, the 'Woman-Power' image - the raised fist combined with the Venus symbol (typically) in pink on white (or reversed) - has significant historical links to militant feminist organisations, who themselves co-opted elements of militant Black Supremacists (the 'Black Power' logo), Anti-War (Vietnam), Pro-Communist, Revolutionary and Subversive organisations in 1960's. Is Reclaim the Internet then, a Feminist initiative (in part or whole) obfuscating otherwise gynocentric motives behind a common public cause of finding a solution to Internet bullying and abuse.
 language is everything and the use of "propagate" in this context rather than "perpetrate" is interesting; the former means to "spread" or "promote", the latter to "carry out" or "commit". In other words, the reports authors intentionally use a word that explicitly removes agency from the equation, that although Demos admit 50% of women engaged in some form of abuse, they're only culpable in spreading, not instigating, it. With the use of a single word, the Demos deify women, affording them a universal 'get out of jail free' card simply for being female, one that emphatically says "women are not capable of abuse" in spite of Demos' own findings.
 "settled" and "undisputed" in the same sense as global warning rhetoric calls for the arrest, prosecution and imprisonment of 'deniers'.
 in omitting a qualifier, i.e. saying "traumatic experience for women" rather than "traumatic experience for some women", the statement is intended to apply to the entire gender, that ALL women and girls are affected, not just [insert qualifier] ("some" in the example given). So as is common to advocacy studies into online abuse and harassment, Demos' gynocentrism assumes from the outset that women are the only gender to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous aggravation, that it happens simply because the recipient is female, despite their own findings and that of others.
 almost without exception, studies into online abuse suffer the same flaws, that of being highly gynocentric, i.e. gender biased, gender presupposed and gender predetermined. This does not speak to commonalities that might be evident in the data or found addressing online harassment, but instead to the methodologies used during investigation; they all start with the same aforementioned predisposition, evidencing towards that outcome; that only women and girls are affected by online abuse and harassment.
 the dictionary definition(s) of "misogyny" are as follows;
- "the hatred of women" [Oxford English Dictionary. Clarendon Press 1990 (print)]
- "[d]islike of, contempt for, or ingrained prejudice against women". [Oxford English Dictionary].
- "hatred, dislike, or mistrust of women, or prejudice against women". [Dictionary.com America English].
- "hatred of women" [Dictionary.com British English].
- "[h]atred or mistrust of women". [American Heritage® Dictionary].
- "hatred of women". [Collins English Dictionary].
- "hatred of women, esp. by a man" [Collins American English].
- "a hatred of women". [Merriam-Webster Dictionary].
Legal definition of "misogyny";
- (no legal definition available - cf.  below).
Note that British English sources ostensibly remain faithful to the traditional definition of the word, where "HATRED" is operand. Whereas American English (and other non-British English) seeks to establish much broader and loose-fitting definitions through inclusion of words with wholly different meanings in their own respective rights. This change in principle appears to be a common trend amongst some Institutions who choose to forsake traditionalism for more progressive, contemporary interpretations that intentionally shift the words substance to be in-line with current, and broad-sweeping, political usage; as a catchall to mean any criticism, comment, objection, non-agreement, indifference towards, or against, women. In other words, simply disagreeing with women online, absent or aside from malicious intent to harm or harass, in contemporary society can result in accusations of career ruining misogyny (on social media especially).
 there is a distinction between "harassment" and "criminal harassment", at least in UK law. Whilst the former may be considered "harassment" by the recipient, it is not in any shape or form "violence", which otherwise require exigent criteria to qualify. The distinction is important. In UK Law, the "Protection from Harassment Act 1997" essentially makes it a Criminal Offense to cause others to fear for their lives, and/or be caused undue distress; "harassment" is defined in the legislation as actions "the person whose course of conduct is in question ought to know that it amounts to [F3 or involves] harassment of another if a reasonable person in possession of the same information would think the course of conduct amounted to harassment of the other" (the Jury being the "reasonable person" in the determination). In other words, whilst being "set upon" by "anonymous internet mobs" could be considered "harassment" in the aggregate because of the constant influx of content, it is not criminal harassment, which obligates a response from authorities. The 'test' is the likelihood of a reasonable person being distressed or in fear for their, or others, safety or well-being. If true, and likely, the authorities are more inclined to act - which is why police rarely respond to online mobs, or seem to help their targets, but will to individualised, or directed, threats.
Additional protections against other forms harassment considered criminal: Public Order Act 1986 (racial/religious harassment); Equal Pay Act 1970 (employment/pay/work); Sex Discrimination Act 1975 (& 1986) (sex/gender/marital/parental status); Employment Act 1989 (equal opportunities in the workplace); Race Relations Act 1976 (racial hatred); Equality Act 2010 (poverty/disability). In the UK 'harassment' can in fact be prosecuted under one or more current governing Laws.
The dictionary definitions of "harassment" are as follows;
- "Aggressive pressure or intimidation" [Oxford Dictionaries].
- "the act or an instance of harassing, or disturbing, pestering, or troubling repeatedly; persecution" [Dictionary.com].
- "to trouble, torment, or confuse by continual persistent attacks, questions, etc" [Collins English].
- "to annoy or bother (someone) in a constant or repeated way" [Merriam-Webster].
- "To subject (another) to hostile or prejudicial remarks or actions; pressure or intimidate." [American Heritage].
UK Legal definition of "harassment";
- "Under amendments made in 1994 to the Public Order Act 1986, an offence is committed when harassment, alarm, or distress is caused to the victim. Under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997, harassment constitutes a criminal offence and victims of harassment may obtain restraining orders and damages where appropriate" [Oxford Dictionary of Law 7 ed.].
US Legal definition of "harassment";
- "Harassment is a form of [...] discrimination that violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, [the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Education Amendments of 1972, Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)*,] the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, (ADEA), and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, (ADA). Harassment becomes unlawful where [...] conduct is severe or pervasive enough to create a[n] ... environment that a reasonable person would consider intimidating, hostile, or abusive." [U.S. Equal EmploymentOpportunity Commission]
In both instances of UK, US and most 'Western' or 'European-ised' legal traditions, this requires "harassment" to be contextualised and 'severe' to a reasonable person before such conduct becomes 'Criminal'. In other words its common to all jurisdictions that "[p]etty slights, annoyances, and isolated incidents (unless extremely serious) will not rise to the level of illegality." [U.S. Equal EmploymentOpportunity Commission].
 to be included in the final tally individuals had to have received at least one 'aggressive' Tweet else the incident was filtered out.
 Daily Users is calculated as Monthly Users * 12 = User per Year / 356 (Days) = Daily Users * 23 = Capture Period Total.
 The average number of Tweets is determined simply by dividing the number of Tweets by Users, the result by the number of days in the monitoring period, i.e. Tweets / Users = period / 23 = daily.
 "aggressive" is defined as any message containing one or more 'trigger' word - "slut", "whore" - plus other undefined 'obscenities'.
 The number of users potentially sending earmarked tweets is calculated by working out the average number of messages per user, i.e. Count / User = Average per User, then Earmarked / Average = Period User Count.
 Tweet + Trigger + Aggressive Intent = fully qualified "aggressive" message. At time of writing Demos has released no exacting information on how many Users the 'qualifying' tweets were associated with. Figures provided in the above are speculated averages.
 Qualified Users* / Targets = Qualified Users per Target. * Users qualified by means of being associated with a fully qualified Tweet.
 Aggressive Tweets / Target = Average per User.
 Qualified Tweets / Capture Period = Average Tweets per Day.
 Qualified Tweets per Day / Qualified Users per Day = Average Qualified Tweets per User.
 Percent of tweets calculated as Total Daily Tweets / 100 = [%value], then Qualified Daily Tweets / [%value] = % of Total Daily Tweets. Percent of daily Users calculated as Total Daily Users / 100 = [%value] then Qualified Daily Users / [%value] = % of Total Daily Users.
 Total # Published Tweets / Qualified Tweets = Period Change. Total Daily Tweets / Qualified Daily = Daily Chance.
 The UK Government recently included a new clause in the Public Grant System (public funding) whereby organisation can no longer use funds received to lobby the legislative process " The Institute of Economic Affairs has undertaken extensive research on so-called ‘sock puppets’, exposing the practice of taxpayers’ money given to pressure groups being diverted to fund lobbying rather than the good causes or public services".
 In the UK although certain laws against discrimination can be interpreted through a gendered filter, legislation is typically agnostic in principle. In contrast the United States has enacted a number of laws that espouse specifically gynocentric principles that make certain behaviours criminal when perpetrated solely against women or girls, e.g. the "Violence Against Women Act 1994 (Reauthorization 2014)".