by Lindsey Weedston
August 21, 2014
[TRIGGER WARNING: ABUSE, THREATS, HARASSMENT, STALKING]
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UPDATE: The comment section on this post is now CLOSED because I'm still getting whiny asshole comments months later from people who are too committed to hating Zoe Quinn to keep up with the facts, which include that her ex has admitted to wanting 4chan and other horrible troll sites to pick up on this, that he knew there was a high chance Zoe would be harassed, that he's been involved with the "leaders" of #GamerGate and coaching them on how to fuel the fire, that this whole thing is just entertainment for him, has violated his restraining order, has been caught in lies on numerous occasions and sexually harasses women who speak up against him. You can see all of this shit here. It's done. Shut the fuck up about it forever.
I'm getting all kinds of people insisting that Zoe Quinn is horrible, from clear misogynists to women who identify as feminists. All kinds of accusations -- that she used sex to get good reviews, that she was emotionally abusive to her ex, that she fake doxxed herself or invented her harassment. All kinds of people pontificating on how AWFUL she was to cheat, to sleep with a married man (even though she said she didn't know at the time that he was married, but no one's taking the time to mention this), to lie about it, etc.
Is cheating wrong? Yes. It's very hurtful, breaks trust, and depending on the couple and the situation, there can be consent issues involved. No one's denying this. Surely Zoe, whether these assertions are true or not, is not a perfect person.
But her ex is clearly not perfect, either. I'm here to talk about what he did to her in order to counter the chorus of voices painting Zoe as the devil and her ex as the blameless victim.
I don't know everything about the details of their relationship. And I certainly shouldn't, because I don't know either of them personally. I feel weird reading any of the Facebook or other online conversations between the two of them, because that's their private business.
But that shit is now online for everyone to see because Zoe's ex put it there without her consent. Huge fucking images containing long conversations between the two of them during their breakup, all posted in a public website he made to tell the world every detail of their falling out (from his point of view, anyway). Isn't that messed up? Imagine you had what you thought was a private conversation from your then-partner and then they posted all of it online without asking if it was okay.
This is a violation of consent. This is a violation of someone's privacy. Clear as day, right out there for everyone to see it.
Now let's talk about emotional abuse.
This is something that doesn't get talked about much. Most of the time when you bring up emotional abuse, people scoff and roll their eyes. A lot of people don't think that emotional abuse is a real thing, or that's is a lesser form of abuse than physical (untrue, many psychologists consider it to be worse). A lot of feminists will talk about gaslighting, but will get dismissed as making things up or being too sensitive, or called any number of ableist slurs.
Yet now that Zoe's ex has posted intimate details of their private breakup online, everyone's all about the emotional abuse. "Oh look!" they say after reading their private conversation, "Zoe was gaslighting him! She was emotionally abusive! Abuse! Abuse! She's a terrible abuser!"
I can't comment on whether Zoe was being emotionally abusive or not, because again, I do not feel right about reading their private conversations. I did look at some of it, specifically the parts where Zoe admits to cheating, but that felt icky so I stopped.
Now, I'm in the habit of believing people when they say they were abused. But it's a little difficult when what Zoe's ex has done is intensely abusive to the point of being dangerous. And even if you are abused, this does not give you leave to be abusive in return.
Zoe's ex obviously knew that Zoe had already been a target of harassment, death threats, rape threats, doxxing, people calling her at home and at least one guy showing up at her home. He must have understood that her continuing her work, remaining visible online, put her life in danger. Not to mention her mental health. He more than anyone, other than Zoe herself and women like her, should have understood this.
In spite of this knowledge, he decides to create an entire public website not only talking about her sex life (which we all know can derail any woman's career) but spills out a shit ton of fuel for the Zoe-hate fire. This is not just a violation of privacy, this is DANGEROUS. And, predictably, she's experienced a massive resurgence in harassment. This is not something you can deny. I've already engaged with Twitter accounts clearly made for the sole purpose of harassing and/or smearing her, seen a vile pornographic comic of her that's being spread by gamer dudes, and seen comment after comment calling her gross misogynistic slurs.
And I have no doubt at all that she's receiving death threats and rape threats. Again.
Yet despite the public nature of this harassment, the website hasn't come down. That WordPress site created by her ex to detail their entire relationship and post private conversations is still there.
And I'm supposed to feel sorry for this guy? No. He is putting her at risk. He continues to put her at risk. Nothing justifies this. Cheating is wrong, but nothing justifies the endangerment of someone's life or the trauma of these massive, orchestrated harassment campaigns. At the very least, he fueled all of this. He is responsible for it.
Sounds like abuse to me. Does not sound like the behavior of a good person who would be great in a relationship. If you're abusive after the relationship, I am not going to believe you were a saint during.
Zoe, on the other hand, refuses to talk about the details of her private relationship with her ex. She has declared publicly that she will not take the bait because it's no one's business. She took the classy, respectful route. Not that he deserves it.
It pisses me off that the only time people want to talk about emotional abuse is when they want to smear a woman or use it to justify their hatred/harassment of her. Fuck that. You want to take emotional abuse seriously, I'd best hear about her ex's abusive behavior as well. Maybe Quinn can't be held up as a saint, but she's still inspiring to me. I know I wouldn't be able to resist the bait. I would lash back out at a guy who did that to me. Maybe even go into hiding to avoid the harassment. But she stands strong. That's incredible.
But her ex is nothing but a soggy weasel as far as I'm concerned.