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The Connection Between the Brett Kavanaugh Hearings and Gamergate

Mark Judgewho Christine Blasey Ford testified was in the room when Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh allegedly sexually assaulted her, is a Gamergate supporter who argued that feminists want to “ban men from having sexual fantasies.”

Resurfaced articles also show Judge, who completed an interview with the FBI on Tuesday, attacking the notion that video games should give women agency, instead defending the practice of “the attentions of a gorgeous, sexy woman” being served up as an endgame prize.

Gamergate arose in 2014, ostensibly over concerns about ethics in game journalism, and quickly coalesced into a group of self-identified members whose concerns expanded to include the rise of what they labeled “PC culture” and “social justice warriors.” The more vocal of the group typically harass people, more often women and minorities, who question some of the status quo of game content in the video game industry. Gamergate harassment is most often sparked by the expansion of gaming content, settings, and characters to include more women, minorities, and the examination of modern social issues.

The Anti-Defamation League recently said it is taking its fight against hate to the world of video games and Gamergate. Gamergate has been linked to tactics used by the Trump administration, particularly under former chief strategist Steve Bannon. In a book by Joshua Green titled “Devil’s Bargain: Steve Bannon, Donald Trump, and the Storming of the Presidency,” Bannon lauds Gamergate as a feeding tube for the alt-right. “You can activate that army,” Bannon is quoted as saying. “They come in through Gamergate or whatever and then get turned onto politics and Trump.”

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Judge, who attended Georgetown Preparatory School with Kavanaugh, became a journalist, filmmaker, and author after graduation. His books include “A Tremor of Bliss: Sex, Catholicism, and Rock ‘n’ Roll and “Wasted: Tales of a GenX Drunk.” He notes in his online biography that his work has also appeared in the Washington Post, New York Times, and the Daily Caller. While he writes about a variety of topics, including pop culture and video games, his most overt work on the intersection of feminism and video games appears on a site called Acculturated.

Acculturated calls itself “an online magazine about the virtues and vices of pop culture and why pop culture matters” where “writers rate our culture and the kinds of messages it sends out every day.” Acculturated is owned by Templeton Press, which has published hundreds of books about faith and its intersection with science and mental health. Templeton Press also publishes a series called “New Threats to Freedom,” which includes books titled, “False Black Power?” and “A Nation of Takers: America’s Entitlement Epidemic.”  

Templeton Press confirmed to Variety, that the Mark Judge listed as the author of Acculturated pieces such as “Why Gamergate is Really About Political Correctness” (published in July 2015) and “Why do Feminist Video Game Critics Want to Ban Male Fantasies?” (published in November 2015) is the same that penned “Wasted: Tales of a GenX Drunk” and was said by Blasey Ford to be in the room when Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her. The Templeton Press declined to comment further.

Following the revelations regarding his potential involvement in the allegations against Kavanaugh, Judge deleted his Twitter account. However, what remains via screenshots and tweets from others shows regular interaction with other prominent figures in the alt-right, including Chuck Johnson and actor Adam Baldwin, who helped coin the term Gamergate.

In his first Gamergate story for the publication in 2015, Judge exclusively takes aim at Feminist Frequency founder Anita Sarkeesian, a frequent target of Gamergate harassment, labeling her arguments as “overly broad.” While he suggests that the harassment campaign against Sarkeesian was “disgusting, sad, and intolerable,” he quickly pivots to talk about how “gamers have absolutely demolished” her points. He cites a YouTuber that goes by the name Repzion as one of the “sharpest gamers to respond to Sarkeesian.”

In the first minute of one of Repzion’s videos linked in Judge’s story, he calls Sarkeesian’s views “crazy.” He then goes on to use derogatory air quotes when summarizing her points. Another Repzion video linked in Judge’s Gamergate story puts Sarkeesian “on motherf- blast” for her opinions about E3.

Judge’s follow-up piece later that year, “Why do Feminist Video Game Critics Want to Ban Male Fantasies?” again focuses exclusively on Sarkeesian. He takes the gloves off, suggesting that she wants to “ban men from having sexual fantasies.” He goes on to talk about women as consumables.

“So, when guys play video games, they like to fantasize about enduring hardship and making it through difficult obstacles to be rewarded at the end (or sooner) with the attentions of a gorgeous, sexy woman? And this is a problem?” Judge asks. “Like most feminist zealots, Sarkeesian strings together an indictment without carefully unpacking the language she uses. Sarkeesian assumes the accuracy of her definition of male sexual fantasies. The error of that assumption undermines her entire argument.

“Sarkeesian assumes that video games portray women’s bodies as collectible, tractable (easy to control), and consumable. In reality, the male fantasy can be an expression of the exact opposite. Rather than representing women as a reward that a man can control, a woman, and particularly a woman’s body, can represent his greatest challenge and most intoxicating opportunity for genuine freedom. Sarkeesian is absolutely right on one count: men do fantasize about consuming women. We dream about consuming their beauty, their tenderness, their spirit, and their goodness in the hope that it will make us better human beings, not to mention good fathers and best friends.”

Neither his Gamergate story nor his take on feminist video game critics go beyond Sarkeesian to fulfill the promise of the headlines. Judge is also fond of using the term “virtue signaling,” a frequent insult used by the alt-right, which he defines in an Acculturated piece as a “popular modern habit of indicating that one has virtue merely by expressing disgust or favor for certain political ideas, cultural happenings, or even the weather.” The term “social justice warrior” used in a derogatory fashion also peppers his work.

Blasey Ford’s accusation of sexual assault at the hands of Supreme Court nominee Kavanaugh touched off weeks of tense political bickering culminating in Blasey Ford’s emotional testimony in late August before the United States Senate Judiciary Committee. At the heart of her story is an allegation that Judge Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her with a witness urging him on.

Blasey Ford is not alone. Her accusation has since been joined by two others, Deborah Ramirez and Julie Swetnick, who have shared similar accounts. She also says she wasn’t alone in the room where Kavanaugh attempted to rape her. In her testimony, Blasey Ford says that Kavanaugh’s friend, Mark Judge, was in the room and witnessed the attack. “Mark seemed ambivalent, at times urging Brett on and at times telling him to stop,” Blasey Ford told the Senate Judiciary Committee. “A couple of times I made eye contact with Mark and thought he might try to help me, but he did not.”

Judge has since refuted the account in an FBI interview, saying that he does not recall the events as described by Blasey Ford in her Senate testimony.

Judge, who has written books about Catholicism and baseball, admits to having on numerous occasions consumed so much alcohol that he vomited and blacked out in “Wasted: Tales of a GenX Drunk.” In that book, a character named Bart O’Kavanaugh, who also engaged in excessive drinking. Incidentally, “Wasted” is largely unavailable. The last copy available in the United States was sold for $850, according to the New Yorker on September 29. A copy is listed on Amazon for $1,949.99 at the time of publication.

When questioned by the Senate Judiciary Committee, Kavanaugh hand-waved the blatant connection between him and Judge’s “Bart O’Kavanaugh” away as the poetic license of an addict. “I think he picked out names of friends of ours to throw them in,” Kavanaugh said. “Mark Judge was a friend of ours in high school who developed a very serious drinking problem–an addiction problem–that lasted decades and was difficult for him to escape from.”

Judge attempted to remain hidden since he became a household name. The Washington Post tracked him down at a friend’s house in the sleepy Delaware town of Bethany Beach (which, according to Coastal Point editor Darin McCann, was up until 1982 a dry town and did not permit the sale of alcohol).

Mark Judge is the latest example of a growing connection between Gamergate and the alt-right. Judge uses his platform to decry “social justice warriors” and denounce “virtue signaling,” in lockstep with the reported arguments used by Steve Bannon to mobilize support for Donald Trump. In Judge’s own words, Gamergate was “really about political correctness,” not the notion of an examination of ethics in journalism as Gamergate members have often argued.

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