Australian video games reviewer, Alanah Pearce, like a lot of women who share their work online (particularly if this is related to video games, it would seem. See: Anita Sarkeesian) has faced her fair share of negative comments and threats from “trolling internet” commenters, including rape threats. While many would choose to ignore and delete such comments – since there isn’t a lot of options to do otherwise – Pearce decided to try to deal with it in a surprisingly straightforward manner – by telling their mothers.
“A while ago, I realised that a lot of the people who send disgusting or overly sexual comments to me over the internet aren’t adult males,” Pearce said in an interview with The Guardian.
She was surprised to learn that these commenters weren’t middle aged men, but young boys.
“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.”
Pearce found the abusive commenters’ mothers simply by clicking through to the commenter’s personal Facebook pages, something she described as “shockingly easy.”
Here is the exchange Pearce had with one of the mothers who replied:
“Hi Anna, I don’t know you, but I was wondering if [blanked-out] is your son?”
“Yes he is. Why?”
“I have never met him before, but he sent me a concerning message to my public Facebook page today that I was wondering if you might be interested in discussing with him.”
*screenshot of abusive comment*
“Omg, little shit. I’M SO SORRY. YES I WILL TALK TO HIM!”
The tweets has been favorited and retweeted thousands of times. Pearce has contacted the mothers of four abusive commenters. So far, only one has replied, but she says she will continue to take action in the same way every time she gets one of these comments.
“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.”
The fact of the matter is, there is never any context that excuses making these kinds of threats to people. While Pearce’s solution may not be for everyone, hopefully it will make abusive commenters think twice before posting on the game reviewer’s Facebook wall and perhaps even think about why they’re making such a horrific comment in the first place. Probably not, but a gal can dream.