It's not news that female gamers are subject to sexual harassment and threats while doing their jobs -- Gamergate, anyone? -- but Alanah Pearce may have found a new way to fight back. The 21-year-old communications student and journalist who reviews video games for Australian television and radio stations, and who also has her own YouTube channel, has begun contacting the mothers of her harassers.
“A while ago, I realized that a lot of the people who send disgusting or overly sexual comments to me over the Internet aren’t adult males,” Pearce told The Guardian. “It turns out that mostly they’re young boys and the problem is they don’t know any better, so responding to them rationally didn’t resolve the situation. And it got to the point where their comments were starting to make me feel really uncomfortable.” Because most of the boys contacted her on their personal Facebook pages, Pearce told The Guardian it was easy to find out who their parents were.
After Pearce sent four messages to various women in which she would ask, "Is this your son?" with a screenshot of their harassing messages, one person responded to her and apologized -- but not before using a curse word to describe her son. Pearce posted the screenshot of her interaction with that harassers' mother on Twitter, and as of this writing, it had been retweeted over 31,000 times and favorited over 52,000 times.
Pearce has become something of a crusader for the cause of ending sexual harassment and sexism in gaming. In 2013, she wrote a post on gaming site Kotaku called 30 Days of Sexism in which she analyzed 10 tweets she received that negatively focused on her gender as a gaming journalist.
As a one-woman Internet version of Hollaback, the anti-street-harassment organization, Pearce hopes that what she's doing will have a positive impact.
“It was just a way to try to reach a resolution," Pearce told The Guardian about her strategy to reach out to harassers' mothers, "to productively teach young boys it’s not okay to be sexist to women, even if they’re on the Internet, that they are real people and that there should be actual consequences for that.”
Sometimes young boys on Facebook send me rape threats, so I've started telling their mothers. pic.twitter.com/0Cbs81eXiE
â€” Alanah Pearce (@Charalanahzard) November 28, 2014