After fourteen years of disingenuity and constant grifting, infamous video game activist Anita Sarkeesian has officially announced that she will be terminating her anti-‘sexism in video games’ organization Feminist Frequency.
The shuttering of Feminist Frequency‘s doors was first announced on August 1st via a blog post published by Sarkeesian to the organization’s official website.
“With my heart stuffed full of a million different emotions, today I share the news with you that Feminist Frequency is closing,” began the activist’s farewell message. “Our staff and Board members have done so much to help me prepare to make this announcement today, but it still feels like taking a deep breath and jumping off a diving board to communicate this message to the countless people who have turned to Feminist Frequency, supported our work, and buoyed me up over the past fourteen years.”
“After I made the conclusive decision that the time had come to close Feminist Frequency, my first fully-formed thought was: ‘Holy f–k!'” explained Sarkeesian of her surprise move. “We—that’s all of us who have been on this journey together—have done so much. We made changes to an industry that were desperately needed, shaking up the status quo and distributing content in the early days of video punditry.
“While we weren’t the first voices in the conversation about inclusion in gaming, we were part of building a community that meant more to its members than we could ever have anticipated,” she continued. “Seeing even more people take up this mantle and continue the work has been heartening; many people working within the industry, even people I have been critical of in the past, have supported and worked to create real change.”
As to why she had chosen to make this decision, Sarkeesian revealed, “The best answer I can give is the honest truth: I’m exhausted.”
“I know that it’s not unusual for nonprofits to have a life cycle shorter than a lot of people would like, but there are unique challenges when they’re so entwined with an individual (me) who has become a symbol (oops), for better and for worse,” said the activist. “I’m hoping that it will be valuable to share the reality of the bone-deep burnout that comes from consistently saying yes to the growth of Feminist Frequency, often at the expense of protecting my personal boundaries, and the workload of our team.”
“While I’ve already said my piece about the harassment that myself and others have experienced over the years, reflecting on it now I can express both a sense of pride that conversations about online abuse have become part of our lexicon, and a reality that it has come at the cost of my health and wellbeing,” she added. “And so, while there has been so much value to this project, and its different iterations over the years, there is also value to projects coming to an end when they can no longer be best served.”
Following an expression of gratitude to what little supporters she had left, Sarkeesian then detailed exactly what the organization’s shutdown meant for such related entities as its Games and Online Harassment Hotline and its podcast, Feminist Frequency Radio.
“For me, it means prioritizing rest and taking time away from the direct responsibility of being the face of a mission, for the first time in a decade and a half”, she stated. “For Feminist Frequency, it means a gradual ceasing of operations, shutting down completely in early 2024.”
“The Games and Online Harassment Hotline will be available through September 30, after which time its fantastic leader Jae Lin will continue to operate its accountability support space ReSpec, and the website will stay live with critical resources for building a safer games culture,” she then confirmed. “Our podcast, Feminist Frequency Radio, will continue to be helmed by its co-host Kat Spada. Tropes v. Women and our full video archive will remain online, available as a free media criticism resource indefinitely.
Further, in terms of the organization’s reception of donations, Sarkeesian announced that “We are in the process of canceling all recurring donations and will stop accepting new donations as of today.”
“Tax receipts will be issued in January of 2024 as usual,” she noted. “Donations already received this year will continue to be used to support the Games Hotline and Feminist Frequency operations and for the many tasks required to shut down a non-profit. If we have any funds left after completing these tasks, we will donate them to mission aligned non-profits.”
Though Sarkeesian did not name any specific “mission aligned non-profits” which may receive Feminist Frequency‘s excess funds, she did close out her message by promoting video game-centric mental health organization Take This, anti-policing organization Interrupting Criminalization, and the various members of the Coalition Against Online Violence.
Notably, though Sarkeesian has placed the blame for Feminist Frequency‘s shut down squarely on her own exhaustion, a quick scan of the organization’s YouTube channel reveals the writing was already on the wall well before this announcement.
Despite having roughly 213,000 subscribers, the last twelve months have seen the channel average around 1,000 views per upload, with recent episodes of Feminist Frequency Radio regularly dipping into the 500s.
In this same period, only five of Feminist Frequency‘s 36 subsequent videos have managed to break this de facto view ceiling – and not by much.
These include an talk with journalist Annalee Newitz regarding Marvel’s She-Hulk: Attorney at Law, a discussion of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever with actress Eboni Adams, an interview with Sarkeesian herself regarding her then-upcoming Nebula series That Time When, and a retrospective on Blade Runner held with television critic Inkoo Kang, all three of which pulled in approximately 3,000 views each, as well as a forty-second video celebrating the second anniversary of The Games and Online Harrassment Hotline‘s operation, which holds the record with just 5,200 views.
Overall, these views represent an engagement rate of only 1.4% from the organization’s audience.
With dwindling numbers like these, it seems it was only a matter of time before Sarkeesian was forced to make a drastic change in her business operations.