Anita sarkeesian
Anita Sarkeesian has cancelled Wednesday's talk in Utah about feminism and gaming after graphic death threats.Wiki Commons/Susanne Nilsson

YouTube star and feminist gaming critic Anita Sarkeesian has been forced to cancel a talk after the venue received an email from someone threatening to carry out a "Montreal-style massacre" against her.

The unsigned email was sent just a day before Sarkeesian was due to go on at Utah State University on Wednesday. The author threatened that if the talk was not cancelled then 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", The Guardian reports.

Sarkeesian is well known in the worlds of pop culture and feminism for her YouTube series "Tropes v Women in Video Games", in which she discusses various anti-feminist trends in video gaming (see video below).

But a critic of her work threatened to "have at my disposal a semi-automatic rifle, multiple pistols, and a collection of pipe bombs.

"This will be the deadliest school shooting in American history and I'm giving you a chance to stop it."

The email continued: "You have 24 hours to cancel Sarkeesian's talk... Anita Sarkeesian is everything wrong with the feminist woman, and she is going to die screaming like the craven little whore that she is if you let her come to USU. I will write my manifesto in her spilled blood, and you will all bear witness to what feminist lies and poison have done to the men of America."

Sarkeesian
Twitter @femfreq

Sarkeesian initially voiced her intention to continue her discussion at USU despite the threats, but was forced to back down after "police wouldn't take steps to prevent concealed firearms at the event", she tweeted.

The authorities turned down her requests for metal detectors and pat downs because of Utah's open carry firearms laws, Sarkeesian reported.

In a statement, the university confirmed the explanation for cancelling the talk: "During the discussion, Sarkeesian asked if weapons will be permitted at the speaking venue. Sarkeesian was informed that, in accordance with the State of Utah law regarding the carrying of firearms, if a person has a valid concealed firearm permit and is carrying a weapon, they are permitted to have it at the venue."

This isn't the first time Sarkeesian has been a victim of hate crimes targeted at her because of her gender and her role in the world of video gaming. In August she was identified as one of the key targets of "#gamergate" – a grassroots attack on feminist critics in gaming, which had led three prominent female figures to take police action over threats of violence.

Sarkeesian was also the subject of a hate campaign before her YouTube series began. A fundraiser on Kickstarter in 2012 led to vandalism of her Wikipedia page, a DDoS attack on her website, and the creation of a game called "Beat Up Anita Sarkeesian", the Guardian reports.