Each week the Fawcett team will be scouring the media and blogosphere to bring you our top essential feminist posts from the past 7 days – the good, the bad and the ugly…

Here at Fawcett HQ we were shocked to hear about the threats that feminist pop culture critic Anita Sarkeesian received before she was due to give a talk at Utah State University. The anonymous author of the email threatened that if the talk was not cancelled, they would carry out an attack in the style of the 1989 Montreal massacre, when Marc Lépine murdered 14 women, claiming he was “fighting feminism.”

Sarkeesian was still keen to hold the talk despite the threats (there were three in total), but she was eventually forced to stand down after it became clear that the police would not take steps to prevent concealed firearms at the event. She requested pat downs or metal detectors, but the police refused, in line with Utah’s open carry laws. Alex Hern wrote about it the Guardian  – and if you want to find out more about Sarkeesian’s work, check out her awesome video webseries dissecting the representations of women in pop culture narratives.

Next up is Kathy Sierra, a computer programmer and blogger who, in 2007 ‘left the internet’ as a result of a longstanding campaign of sexist threats and harassment that included her social security number and address being posted on her Wikipedia page. Last week, Kathy Sierra came back online in a blog titled, ‘Trouble at the Kool-Aid Point.’  In the blog Sierra talks about the time she began to be trolled: “I now believe the most dangerous time for a woman with online visibility is the point at which others are seen to be listening, “following”, “liking”, “favoriting”, retweeting. In other words, the point at which her readers have (in the troll’s mind) “drunk the Koolaid”. Apparently, that just can’t be allowed.”’’

Helen Lewis wrote a great article for the New Statesman about Sierra and trolling more broadly, discussing the abuse that Mary Beard and Caroline Criado-Perez have received in recent years. She makes a great argument for beating the trolls by fighting ‘the stories they tell themselves to justify what they do. We make the case that there are many enemies of free speech, but they are not, largely, female writers or programmers, or women who make TV shows about Pompeii. It’s impossible not to feed the trolls; but we can destroy their narratives.’

Finally, moving offline, we were horrified to see an upsurge in anti-choice extremists attempting to prevent women accessing NHS-funded abortion services. TUC Women’s Officer Scarlet Harris wrote a blog, ‘US Style abortion clinic protests coming to a clinic near you…’ about the way in which Abort67 are filming women as they enter and exit clinics, handing out leaflets containing graphic images and misinformation about abortion. (And in case you missed it, Scarlet also wrote a blog for us earlier this week on why feminists need to be at the TUC march tomorrow). If you’re as appalled as we are about this systematic campaign to stop women accessing their right to advice and abortion services without intimidation, sign Abortion Rights’ petition here.

So this week’s Feminist Friday post is a bleak one – but as ever we want to know your thoughts, and we would LOVE to read some good news feminist posts too! Please share them in the comments section below.

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