Anita Sarkeesian's XOXO Speech On Online Harassment Towards Women Is Powerful & Heartbreaking— VIDEO

It's been a crazy couple of years for feminist pop-cultural critic Anita Sarkeesian. Since launching her Tropes vs. Women in Video Games series on Kickstarter in 2012, she's been on the receiving end of a ceaseless din of threats and verbal abuse, thanks to a collection of gamers who apparently couldn't tolerate a woman's polite, nuanced works of criticism. And she spoke out about it last month: Anita Sarkeesian's XOXO speech on harassment and believing women won't give you the whole idea about what it's like to be in her shoes, but you'll definitely get a little closer.

It's no small feat for Sarkeesian to stand up in public and talk about these things at this point, considering the tenacity of her feverish harassers, and some of the serious, terroristic threats she's received — when slated to receive an award at the Game Developer's Conference earlier this year, she was the victim of a bomb threat, forcing the San Francisco Police Department to search the Moscone Center with explosives-sniffing dogs.

However, the threats didn't silence her then — she accepted the award as planned, the first time it had been bestowed to a woman — and they clearly haven't silenced her now.

XOXO Festival on YouTube

Sarkeesian's goal from the start was a simple one: make a series of videos analyzing common, sexist tropes which recur regularly throughout the history of video games. And for the effort she's become, as she described it, a sort of "folk demon."

Sarkeesian specifically addressed some of the extremely disgusting behavior that's been directed at her — death threats, rape threats, and Photoshopped pornographic images, among others — before getting around to addressing the conspiratorial thinking that underscores this ongoing harassment campaign.

After pretty telling sigh, Sarkeesian detailed a few bizarre claims from one YouTube personality.

If this sounds at all familiar, it could be because this guy's pretty vocal — his name is Jordan Owen, one of two men claiming to be producing an entire documentary aimed at discrediting Sarkeesian for... something. It's not entirely clear what.

While doing an interview with fellow YouTuber MundaneMatt about his project, Sarkeesian's so-called "obsessive fellow" did indeed suggest she'd lightened her skin, and started to "smile like a white person," whatever that means. To call it gross would be complimentary.

Perhaps the major takeaway from Sarkeesian's talk, however, was the minimization and reflexive distrust of women's experiences online. In her case, this reality sits right on the surface — Sarkeesian's been endlessly accused of faking threats against herself, to the point that the other of those two "documentarians" erroneously suggested she'd lied about contacting the authorities over death threats made against her in September.

Her big plea to the XOXO crowd — which earned her a huge ovation, so it's safe to assume they got the message — was this: when women talk about their experiences being harassed on the internet, believe them.

Her full talk is embedded above, as well as available here — at just over 16 minutes, it's a fantastic watch (if a tiny bit depressing), and well worth your time.

Images: XOXO Festival/YouTube