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Anita Sarkeesian's project to expose stereotypes in video games attracts a maelstrom of hate.
Tags: feminism video games
First of all I don't buy it. No one cares enough about you to do this. Self promotion is what I suspect. Plus the Wikipedia page "vandalism" is hilarious! I'm in a room with four other women and we all laughed.
You realize this is what people say about women who are raped, right? "She's doing it for attention," "She's lying to get out of a problem," "She's being overdramatic." It's called victim blaming and it sucks to be on the other end of it.
I'm not sure that Anita's parents, her family, her co-workers, her friends, and least of all, Anita herself, found it funny to find random streams of racial and homophobic slurs and pornography on her Wikipedia page. Can you imagine yourself in that position? I don't imagine you would laugh that hard if everyone you loved, worked with, or met associated those horrible images with you every time they saw you for days, weeks, or months. Please think that through.
Wow, you mustn't get on the internet much. Sure the trolls don't care that much about her in particular, but there's no effort involved either. This stuff happens literally all the time.
Here's the thing that people seme to be missing in this whole kerfuffle:
The real problem is that this blogger started a kickstarter in order to fund her "research". Translation: she founded a kickstarter in order to allw her to play video games. Now, call me crazy, but since 99% of all internet users have or have access to said games and game systems already, and a similarly large amount are also are willing and able to make and post videos/digital films/blog posts, why is she asking for money to do this?
Again, writ large and condensed: SHE IS ASKING FOR MONEY TO PLAY VIDEO GAMES AND MAKE VIDEOS ABOUT DOING SO. Does this make any sense? Are we not to suppose that we are funding her "reaserch" by buying her a complete entertainment center, when she could otherwise do her "research for...oh, I don't know...$100 total (including pizza and soda). ? It's a crass move, and breathtakingly so. That is the real problem.
I'm not sure if you're well acquainted with the world of academic research and criticism, but if you did, there would be nothing "crass" or "breath-taking" about it, that's pretty much how it all works.
People get paid to test hi-tech RC planes, eat yummy ice cream, drive the expensive cars, try on fancy clothes, listen to new music, visit fancy restaurants, travel to exotic locations, look at pretty people, watch TV and movies, and -- indeed -- play video games. A lot of people do it for free: they are called amateurs. A lot of people do it, generate well-constructed documentation, and get paid: they are called professionals. Some of them ask the government for research money, some of them ask the private sector or charities: they all still get paid to do things they are passionate about. This isn't a special case and this isn't a legitimate justification for any dismissing what Anita's doing.
Nobody's "missing" anything. I'm sensing that people who use this excuse are just angry that someone's doing something that they think isn't "real work" because "real work" should be soul-crushing and back-breaking and rooted in math or hard sciences or business. C'mon, you don't really believe that, right? After all, athletes are always ASKING FOR (EXORBITANT AMOUNTS OF) MONEY TO PLAY BASKETBALL/FOOTBALL/SOCCER and they don't even know how to edit a video!
After being aghast at the vitriol received by this woman, and ashamed people would go to such lengths, I have to nonetheless agree the problem is with the "research."
This is worth repeating: "writ large and condensed: SHE IS ASKING FOR MONEY TO PLAY VIDEO GAMES AND MAKE VIDEOS ABOUT DOING SO. Does this make any sense? Are we not to suppose that we are funding her "reaserch" by buying her a complete entertainment center, when she could otherwise do her "research for...oh, I don't know...$100 total (including pizza and soda). ? It's a crass move, and breathtakingly so. That is the real problem."
Choosing not to fund the kickstarter is not protest enough. But clearly, going after someone as described is way too much.
Bull----. That's not the real problem. Know how I know? If that were the real problem, people would simply refuse to fund her, or criticize her without all the sexist insults and threats. The real problem is that she's a woman criticizing sexism, and a lot of people just can't let that happen.
No, that's a lie. Those aren't threats, they're deliberately insulting bad-taste jokes from people just as liberal as she is.
Could you rephrase or explain that? Because I'm not sure why you think it's all an in-joke between some snooty, omg-ironic-bad-taste liberals. What is it about people promising to rape her and her family (no joke setup required!) sounds like a "joke"? This is about as real as a threat gets. If you say you will do something in a situation where you aren't clearly performing (i.e. on a stage), that constitutes a threat, don't you think? I know I take strangers at their word when they say their going to hurt me.
I'm going to attempt to write this opinion in an erudite manner to explain why this young lady stirred up a hornets nest on 4chan, and why the author is somewhat subjectively (though not entirely) in her journalism here. The primary problem with 4chan is they joust with rage and insults; but don't always elucidate their position clearly.
First off, let me attack the financial aspect of what shes doing. Why did she need kickstart money to do this research? Multitudes of people make these types of videos for free on 4chan because it is of interest to them. The fact that money was necessary to do it, immediately puts her whole process in an unfavorable light. We're all brought up that way, when money becomes involved, we form nefarious opinions due to long experience in society.
Let's get to the crux of the matter though, this girl is attacking what she percieves to be sexism in modern video games. We've been rescuing the princess regularly ever since medieval times, so yes, there is a built in stereotype to a degree. But let us look at some of the modern views taken. Women are attractive in video games, as are men. Society is driven by beauty, in video games, on TV. Sex sells, as they say. To suggest that this phenomenon is solely male driven is most certainly sexist. If we reframe the argument to suggest that there are no psychologically powerful women heros in video games, that is simply false, as many have been listed in the debate.
I think that everyone would accept there is perhaps some level of validity in what she cares about, but heres ultimately why it inspires anger among the 4channers. They see a notorious double standard among the sexes today that some but not all are guilty of, really not too unlike race relations. All stereotypes are built with at least a glimmer of fact. To these people, this girl is seeking money to attack sexism against women in a traditionally male arena while at the same time conforming to those same stereotypes in a video by arguably attempting to make herself attractive to the viewer (who wouldnt). The earings/lowcut shirt (at least in some of her other videos), are these not all means taught by society to women to make themselves more attractive to those around them? Sex does sell, but these internet folks view it as an extreme form of hypocrisy especially when money is involved. Fact of the matter is that most of these men (and they are predominately men attacking her) have dealt with this form of hypocrisy time and time again in real life, so it struck a raw nerve with them. The examples, while anecdotal, help to paint a picture. Having to chase after women, buy them things, meanwhile many of these girls (in some case refered to as vapid sex objects) chase after what can be deemed as "alpha males." Reference that new Carly Rae Jensen song "ill be out with the boys, try to chase me" Yet some of these same girls who play with the old norms expect men to shed their norms in favor of equality. Subsets of women complain about these gender relations as this lady has, and subsets of men complain in their own way as well, as many 4channers do. Racial relations are very similar, if you start talking about affirmative action, youll get a raw nerve response as well. Whos at fault, which came first, the chicken or the egg?
This lady crossed a threshhold that involved money on an issue that many men have legitimate anecdotal experiences of hypocrisy regarding, and while she shouldnt be completely ostricized (I don't advocate the nasty things being said about her), for women to flock to her defense entirely and not recognize the larger issue at play here is completely objective and unfounded. Feminism and sexism are two separate issues I agree, but many are all too willing to play with those titles for their own prejudices and purposes. With all of that being said, I feel this story could've been reported more objectively, and this young lady needs to accept this is just one area of the vastly largeer and more complex paradigm of male/female relations.
TLDR: 4chan spewing hate based on personal experience, their hate isnt true hate..just a raw nerve that temporary really pissed them off, lets all look at bigger picture.
The "bigger picture" is that trying to force someone offline using threats, financial attacks and trying to get them banned from sites with fraudelent claims is not free speech or rational. If the alleged group involved wasn't 4chan (and it wasn't 4chan but some misogynists using 4chan to communicate) this would be seen as an explicitly political act.
When the target is some political institution with great power, there's a possibility such tactics might be understood, if not justified. Using it to silence someone with an opinion who people have the option to ignore and not give their money, it makes those doing the political group trying to oppress a female voice.
That's the bigger picture. Making excuses for 4chans humor is nothing but providing cover.
Do you suffer back pain from the acrobatics you just performed trying to justify a torrent of rape and death threats and financial attacks because a bunch of anonymous cowards had a hissy over a video project?
I mean its obvious you unburdened yourself of common sense, decency or anything that resembled an ethical principle before attempting the maneuver, but still the contortions you went through attempting to explain how it's understandable that a woman should be attacked simply for being in the public eye were apparent.
Too bad you didn't quite nail the dismount. I was ready to award you the Gold Burqa Award.
I stated multiple times that I felt she should not have been ostracized to that point and I did not advocate what what said, I simply stated where 4chans anger comes from, and to look at things in a grander context.
Reference my point towards the end how people will use this debate and the feminist and sexist debates for their own ends. You may well have found you did just that by attacking the poster instead of the post.
I am going to need some money to check out what is wrong with your septic tank.
Tell me, how much cleavage are you allowed to show before you're no longer allowed to have an opinion?
You can dress up in a bra and bikini and still have an opinion, reference the latest controversy over youtube "reply girls" http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2111227/Alejandra-Gaitans-racy...
Men are just as guilty as women over this affair, but its anecdotal examples like these that cause that raw nerve develop in the first place. Is the girl in that article like the majority of women, of course not; but a great many men have perhaps one or two real life experiences at some point of a women who was all too similar. Just as many women have a few experiences of a particularly chauvinist man in their lives.
The point is that this lady does herelf no favors by playing into those norms when shes attacking the entire system, particularly when money is involved, which ups the ante, so to speak.
To rally to her defense without appreciating the grand social context involved is disingenuous at best.
Words ruining the internet: Tropes, Little Monsters, Stans, Bronies, Fandom and Fan Fiction. Get rid of these and the online world will be a happier place.
We used to make fun of you people on Usenet and all of you just played along.
Why does everything men do have to measure up to a womens self worth.
you don't like our half naked avatars, go make your own game with half naked firemen.
you think i would care and do research on how it effect men, get over yourself.
AGAIN....if you don't like what has been made, make your own!!
stop trying to change what WE make to fit what YOU want.
1 I agree and wish TO REPEAT: Why does everything men do have to measure up to a womens self worth.
you don't like our half naked avatars, go make your own game with half naked firemen.
you think i would care and do research on how it effect men, get over yourself.
AGAIN....if you don't like what has been made, make your own!!
stop trying to change what WE make to fit what YOU want.
2 And I'll add, if what passes for feminism was't so nakedly & inherently selfish, inward looking and self-serving, perhaps then you would notice not all men measure up to Brad & Clooney in your gossip magazines and films. It's called fantasy for a reason..and furthermore..
3 if any career feminists posing as concerned parties were bothered to look at BOTH sides of the equation (i.e. 2-D protrayal of men in all similar media) may be you would earn some support legitimately..rather than relying on the legacy of sophistry from your predessors which deludes society, especially vulnerable women..and men, when this construct is clearly a capitalist one regardless of the gender of protagonists, be they in government or Womens magazines.
"3 if any career feminists posing as concerned parties were bothered to look at BOTH sides of the equation (i.e. 2-D protrayal of men in all similar media) may be you would earn some support legitimately.."
Gee, if only there were someone interested in researching this very issue to see what he or she could learn about it in real, without just relying on anecdotal evidence, unexamined assumptions, or sophistry from her or his predessors (sic)! And boy, if this curious person could get a little funding together so that he or she could put some real time and careful thought into it. Oh wait...
While I agree that hostility directed at the author is despicable, and while I agree that some games display sexist tropes, I have a sneaking suspicion that she is trying to pass herself off as a gamer when she's not. The examples displayed in the beginning of her video are incredibly dated. The last Laura Croft game came out in 2003, which might as well be 100 years ago. I'm not going to even mention the Miss Pac Man image. As well, the content of her other youtube vids, from sexist traditional Christmas songs, to deconstructing sexist male attitudes towards the Twilight movies, sniffing out male sexism - which is not a bad thing to do - is something she does for a living. So the idea that she is just a modern gamer sick and tired of sexist video games, is a little disingenuous.
Oh man, it can't possibly be legitimate if she includes games that are more than 5 years old.....
There is a new Lara Croft gaming coming out soon. The trailer showed at E3.
Related to this topic is artist Amber Hawk-Swanson's performance piece titled "Online Comments" (http://tinyurl.com/82o3llv) in which she read two-and-a-half hours worth of comments on press she received for a project she did years ago (The Amber Doll Project).
Every single post on this issue is then inundated with criticism of the project. What is your problem guys? If you just left this woman alone then the only people who would know about her internet videos would be the feminists who already watched her other series. It's not like Mom's coming to take away your controller, it's just people having opinions on the internet. Why all the hostility?
For anyone who thinks this project is a waste of time- read some of these comments. And then think about what will be posted on sites like 4Chan and Youtube where the standard of commenter is frankly far worse than on here.
I think the problem is bigger than video gaming: it is with the pervasive faulty definition of a strong female character. If your idea is that a strong woman is someone that men don't mind following because they have a nice backside then you are completely missing the point. Strong female characters in movies, books, video games have to have a character- you know, characteristics that make them believable. We can take out the word female and ask what is a strong character? It’s not talking about how many tons they can lift.
Female characters are usually only thrown in to be the arm candy of the "hero" (the one who overcomes an obstacle or tragic flaw and saves the day) they are completely flat characters (no development or tragic flaw to overcome) whose only dialogue is with the main character or about the main character. Even in movies with female leads how often does the female character have a conversation (a stricter rule is to add this conversation needs to be with another female character) that doesn't in some way discuss her relationship to a man? These are weak characters that are given superhuman qualities and then passed off as strong females that we should look to as role models. As if women only exist to 1. Make the world a more beautiful place and 2. Reward a man for his achievements. Sorry, there are important things we can do with our time and talents.
There is nothing wrong with being attractive, and there is nothing wrong with being ugly, well at least for a man. In movies the women are either perfect and unattainable, except when men become heroes, or they are ugly. Why is it that there are no real female characters in mainstream blockbuster movies? They are missing for the same reason that when a woman expresses an opinion in politics, business, humanity, etc. her opinion is discussed in light of her sexuality. Men, in order to somehow prove her opinion flawed, throw out sexualized profanity to somehow justify their beliefs. Can I do the same to men? Oh wait, the only sexualized profanity against men is to call them gay, or to insult their mothers.
So, my point is that for some reason women cannot escape the fact that they are first and foremost sexual beings and that sexuality will forever hinder them from being a real person with real ideas. This is what feminism is trying to change.
You'd think the Fire Department was down here with all these cherry-pickers.
holy shit , that's my comment hahahahaha
The thing about this Kickstarter project is that it accomplishes absolutely nothing. The video series the Kickstarter has funded will most likely be boring and repetitive due to spewing the same opinions about women in video-games that we've heard many times over and over.
Everybody knows women aren't portrayed very well in most video games. And nobody truly cares, considering the main video-game demographic is 15-25 year old males. Let alone the fact that the idea of character archetypes such as the damsel-in-distress have been around since stories have begun to be told.
The true problem has more to do with the way women WANT to be represented in video-games rather than how women ARE represented in video games. More often than not you get good female characters like, say, Samus Aran from Metroid (though considering her recent character bastardization in Other M she's arguable) or Heather Mason from Silent Hill dejected into the pile of characters who don't fit how women want to be portrayed for asinine reasons. And more often than not, when good female characters are brought up into the argument, they're waved away as "exceptions to the rule" or ignored entirely. On the whole women are actually presented quite well in video games, with bad representations being the true exception to the rule.
my comment posted twice I AM SO SORRY HAHA
i'm an idiot and decided to change my name halfway through but apparently it had already sent. sorry if this spams you or anything !
'And nobody truly cares, considering the main video-game demographic is 15-25 year old males'
apparently, 40-ish-% of gamers these days are female. not all of them will have particularly strong opinions regarding the depiction of women in games, but given that an increasing number of males are showing an interest in seeing a broader range of female characters in games, i would still hardly call that 'nobody'.
it's true that there are games who have a nice wide range of female characters, but i would insist that these are not in the majority at all, and this is the main part of your post that i strongly disagree with. while the ace attorney series is absolutely brilliant for female character design and backstory, on the flipside, pretty much all fantasy MMOs retain their samey, fanservicey female characters. certain japanese-made games are also infamous for sticking to the stereotype that all women and girls are vulnerable deep down and just want to be rescued.
i may just notice this more because i'm female myself, though. it would be helpful to objectively analyse a sample of mainstream games so we can put the old 'i'm sure it's not that bad' vs. 'it's absolutely terrible !' argument to rest... which is where this kickstarter project would help. assuming it's objective. which, it pains me to say as a feminist, i don't think it is. as much as i wish it was.
i'm going to throw out another issue here and say that part of the lack of variety may be that there is no PERCEIVED demand for hulking female werewolves or festering undead women. there are a fair few women who truly do only want to play pretty girls in their games, and possibly even more guys who like to see or play as pretty girls in their games.
HOWEVER, given the response to this project, i would definitely say that the demand for different female characters is there, and is on the increase.
"Everybody knows women aren't portrayed well in video games... On the whole women are actually presented quite well in video games."
You're wrong in several places, but that's hardly surprising since you didn't read your own post.
A 15-25 year-old male who cares about this issue.
opinion, opinion without source everywhere.
there are as many negative female characters in games as there are negative male characters.
princess peach: bimbo who gets stolen but otherwise dose nothing.
mario: meat head who is expected to fight to the death in order to serve said 'princess'
gears of war, final fantasy, nowhere is there a strong attempt to make a strong, positive role model more complex than "do-gooder".
shove your double standards up your arse and move onto something actually productive to society
In bizarro world of "liberalism", where males are white knighting feminazis, defecating on the same males, this book will probably be considered as something positive.
In reality, the absolute majority of enemies in games are males. The absolute majority of main antagonists are males. Almost every one to be killed, mutilated, tortured in every game is a male. Males are being depicted as objects of strength as often as females are being depicted as objects of beauty, and backwards.
All in all, it's time for feminism to be banned as sexist, discriminatory and filled with hate-speech, cult.
This women, building her identity on hating males, should receive medical attention.
And white knights, infesting Internet, should realize that they're only defending this creature, because they're males, acting according to their natural instincts.
People who believe misandry is a real thing have the smallest penises in the world.
The problem isn't that women are being portrayed as villains, it's that they're being portrayed as trivial.
If you think she hates men, then you didn't bother clicking her video.
If you think men who disagree with you here are just trying to get laid, your respect for men is equally troubling.
I hope to one day make 80k for nothing and get loads of attention for being completely out of touch with everything.
Oh man, women, smart enough to cook, stupid enough to make something else
I don't buy it. I suspect clever self promotion.
30 seconds of research would help you discover that you're wrong.
Really? Guess you've hung out in nicer corners of the internet than me if you've not seen this sort of bullying, vilification and hate generated by issues like this!
Article was fantastic, thanks for the objective read.
I don't get the point of this girl's project. What does she want? Like, if she was given complete facist control of the video game industry and was able to destroy everyone's creative input and use entirely her own, what would her idea of a perfect video game be? Games are just fantasy that people use for entertainment. Is she telling me I shouldn't be entertained by any of these games? Why should what I like be not worthy of the money I chose to spend on it? Is she telling me that I would like a game that has a more powerful female lead more than a male? I thought the purpose of feminism was to make gender a non issue. Besides the fact that different games have different characters, it never really crosses my mind. I've played games with strong female leads, and games that had women in bikini's. If the gameplay was good, I liked them both regardless. Am I part of the problem now?
The video game industry is just that, an industry. These are just the games that sell. Is she mad that they sell well? Or that the industry/game companies are making them in the first place? The main demographic for video games is still young men. Yes, more and more women are gaming now. If they make a game that fits the feminist agenda, maybe it would sell, maybe it wouldn't. The company probably doesn't want to take that chance when they could make a game that DOES sell for sure. Is it the company's responsibility to change social policy in the US? Speaking of which...most of these games are made in Japan. Is this girl really being audacious enough to demand social change in a different country all together. Yeah right, imagine if a Chinese person made a youtube video demanding a complete social restructure in the US. It just seems sloppy and devoid of a point, other than "RAGE! The game doesn't make me happy!!"
I just don't get it...
what even... She clearly states that she wants to do research.
Speaking of "rage"...
I don't see why you have a problem with this if you see the industry as it is. There's nothing wrong with asking for change and trying to take steps to do so. But that's not even what she's doing, she's just pointing out where the sexism exists.
although I do agree the article was objective, I thought that too, it's not exactly "wrong".
The reaction justifies the project. She is courageous!
Just wanted to say this article was well written. Entertaining whilst getting the point across. You're doing the internet right, Helen Lewis.
(This is the opinion of a high school sophomore)
I understand how some women can be offended by the portrayal of female characters in video games, and how they are tailored by men to be the "Eye Candy" that hooks, mostly younger, gamers into wanting to purchase this product. But do understand that this is pretty much just that.
Most teenagers are not able to have sex, so they have to resort to 'fapping' to video game characters or porn. And the very same concept that people try to implement onto trolls where "if you don't like the video, don't watch it" can be applied in the context of "If you don't like this character, don't pay attention to them", and you might also see from the troll's viewpoint, how easily a task that is to accomplish.
And the argument "Tits or GTFO" being used to summarize the young gaming audience towards female characters is slightly fabrication. Yes, there are many over-sexualized characters, but there are also games where the female is a powerful protagonist or antagonist. Portal, for example, every character in the game is female, and that doesn't detract from the experience at all.
Also, what's the problem with having women that are visually appealing? It brings extra appeal (which is what developers want in the first place), and prevents a game from being a "sausage-fest".
The same goes for male characters, too. How many games have you seen where the man is a muscle-bound, physically superior hunk. Obviously, that isn't to attract females who happen to play video games. Every guy gamer loves staring at another man's muscular glutes. These are games, made for entertainment, and these arguments are almost pointless.
I would also like to point out that as of the publishing of that article, some $55,000+ had been raised to help raise awareness about the alignment of PIXELS ON A SCREEN! Do any of you realize how much that money could have helped someone who NEEDED it?
I type this argument in the comfort of my bed, with a laptop, at 12:14 A.M., just before I fall soundly to sleep.
I can believe that you are a high school sophomore, because your logic is about that quality. Your comparison of the portrayal of men to women is ridiculous. Women are portrayed as vapid sex objects, while men are portrayed as powerful jock-heroes. They are both unrealistic, but they are both also male power fantasies. You are pretending that the blatant disrespect shown to women is balanced out by the blatant playing to men's egos, and that is absurd.
And your "if you don't like it, don't watch it" nonsense completely misses the point. You see, it's not Ms. Sarkeesian or her supporters who have a problem here, it's you. You are steeped in blatantly sexist entertainment, and you are unhappy about having that pointed out to you. So you make excuses, and pretend that this isn't a real issue that matters, all because you are feeling defensive about someone exposing the reality of your hobby. And that is precisely why this is such an important issue. People like you, who have their heads in the sand and refuse to face reality, are the reason why reality needs to be pointed out.
Video games are sexist. Very, very, very, **VERY** sexist. This has been painfully obvious to me for a very long time, and I'm a man. I still play because, hey, I'm a gamer, but unlike you I face reality. And the reality is, equality for women is an issue that matters regardless of the forum.
So grow up and stop making excuses.
Congratulations, it took you 3 words to resort to an ad hominem argument and strawman arguments. Most "Vapid sex objects", as you so put it, in games are actually strong and self-sufficient in numerous facets. Off the top of my head, I could name Samus Aran, Lara Croft, Karrigan, Cortana (if you actually play the game, you would know she's the one in control), Jade, Claire Redfield, Jill Valentine, etc. I could go on for hours. A "gamer" such as yourself should be well aware of this. The thing to note with all of these characters is that, while they are all physically appealing, they are also extremely powerful. But the first thing you look at is their breasts, and yet you claim that people such as Tomato are the ones being sexist, despite you (clearly) dismissing those characters before even playing the game or reading their backstories. Not all men want to be "powerful jock-heroes" as you so described. I personally prefer characters with more technical prowess or finesse. You, however are being sexist by acting like all men being portrayed in this light doesn't affect young men in the same way it affects young women. The reality is most people are intelligent enough to look at any lead game character as an inspiration, regardless of gender. People like you are so short-sighted that you can't see the positive influence these characters have on both genders. People like you are the reason why feminists have a bad name, because you make things an issue of sexism when there is none. Feminism is about equality, so start considering both sides.
Oh, and speaking of "feeling defensive about someone exposing the reality of [their] hobby", you may want to consider a new one, because you clearly do very little research to dismiss the points this young man brought up so ignorantly. Ad Hominem attacks are pathetic. Attack the issue, not the person.
Helen Lewis is deputy editor of the New Statesman. She tweets @helenlewis