This woman took boys' Facebook rape threats to their mothers

Female gaming journalist Alanah Pearce took their lewd and threatening words to the women who may least approve.


What would your mother think?

That question ended up posing a solution for an Australian gaming journalist who was receiving rape threats.

When young boys started sending threats of sexual violence to Alanah Pearce, she took it to their mothers.

She posted screenshots of her Facebook messages with one mother in a tweet, which now has been retweeted nearly 40,000 times and favorited more than 60,000.

"I have never spoken to him before, but he sent a concerning message to my public Facebook page today that I was wondering if you might be interested in discussing with him," Pearce wrote to one boy's mother, with a picture of the threat attached.

"IM SO SORRY," the mother responded. "YES I WILL TALK TO HIM!!!!"

Pearce, who reviews video games for Australian radio and television, and has her own YouTube channel, told The Guardian that the idea for her method of dealing with the "disgusting or overly sexual comments" came after she realized those sending them weren't adults.

"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," she said. "And it got to the point where their comments were starting to make me feel really uncomfortable."

(It was also easy to find them since the messages are usually sent through personal Facebook pages.)

Pearce said the mother's reaction was what she'd hoped.

"It was just a way to try to reach a resolution, to productively teach young boys it’s not okay to be sexist to women, even if they’re on the internet," she told The Guardian, "that they are real people and that there should be actual consequences for that."

Pearce also linked the uptick in threats to the recent and ongoing "Gamergate" controversy, saying, "it's a weird thing that has been happening in gaming culture specifically."

"I've had people asking me today why this boy has been sending me rape threats, and is there any context. I can only assume he's seen a video of mine that he didn't like, or that I'm a woman in games on the Internet. It sounds illogical, but it happens to so many people," she said.

"Gamergate" is an Internet scandal whose proponents and critics define it differently, and which has spurred conversation about misogyny and harassment in gaming culture.

While some claim ethics in video game journalism are at stake, most agree the issue at hand is more a cultural war within the industry.

Online threats drove two female game developers to flee their homes for fear of their safety, and sent many more women into a sort of online incognito for fears ranging from physical sexual violence to personal information exposure.

Actress and video gamer Felicia Day, who has pled for tolerance and an end to extreme cyberbullying, expressed her fears on Tumblr, the Monitor previously reported.

"I have tried to retweet a few of the articles I've seen dissecting the issue in support, but personally I am terrified to be doxxed [having one’s personal documents, address and family information maliciously made public] for even typing the words 'Gamer Gate,' " Ms. Day wrote in her Tumblr post at the time.

She said she was driven offline by the cyber bullying.

"I have been terrified of inviting a deluge of abusive and condescending tweets into my timeline," Day writes. "I did one simple @ reply to one of the main victims several weeks back, and got a flood of things I simply couldn’t stand to read directed at me. I had to log offline for a few days until it went away."

Pearce's approach marks a shift in stamping out fear for women affected by Gamergate.

"I’ve grown up in gaming culture, and in the last five years I've seen this massive shift, which is awesome," she said. "It's great to have more women in the industry and to encourage more women by telling them it’s not this horrible place."

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