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Anita Sarkeesian's project to expose stereotypes in video games attracts a maelstrom of hate.
Tags: feminism video games
If - as you say - there is no issue of sexism here, why the avalanche of hate and viciousness (overt sexism) and the desperate need to deny it exists (covert sexism) in response?
Feminism is by definition not understood by sexists, it's for women and those who understand that we have some way to go before we are deemed equal by the sorry pile of threatened masculinity who can't handle women unless we're there to feed you (and your prodigious egos), be f****d or killed. Heaven forfend we start to evolve without the alphas trashing things - again.
See, the most basic problem with having solely (with the few exceptions such as Portal, I'll grant you that) giant-titted and scantily clothed female characters is that they appeal mostly to one specific audience, the young male gamers, as you've mentioned. However, lots of people play games, including women and men of all ages and sexual orientations. The label "gamer" can be applied to so many more people than just the traditional greasy male adolescent, and there isn't much diversity outside of children's games to reflect that. And while yes, there are muscle-bound dude characters as well that also objectify men, they too are a male fantasy, but one of power, not sexuality. In theory, guy gamers want to be the main characters and screw the female characters. They're still being designed for a male audience rather than a female or mixed one.
And yes, these are games, designed for entertainment, but our entertainment reflects our society, and we could certainly use more diversity and inclusiveness in both. I, frankly, am tired of getting threatened by gaming dudebros, and I'd really like to have a wide choice of games where my character can be a badass without having her tits fall out.
That Tomato, if this were really just about pixels on a screen, then why did all those people hurl abuse at Anita Sarkeesian? Obviously there's much more going on here than just pixels.
The most important thing in the article is given the least amount of coverage : Despite the threats , and the negative reception she's got all the backing she asked for and more & is going to follow through with the project. That's the way to do it. Also : if anyone thinks that 4chan represents ' the internet ' they are sadly mistaken. If no one ( not even the FBI ) took the death threats I got on the internet from scumbag rapists in Seattle what can anyone expect? She is doing the right thing - standing up and refusing to be silenced by adversity, but general assholeisim is there on the net regardless if you are a man , woman or intergender. How do you fix society? Blaming the internet for people being idiots is like blaming the phone company for obscene phone callers. Her actions, her work , and her video will help - but the change is a long way coming.
Shouldn't this website be called the "New Statesperson"?
Really though, some of the responses on here are pretty pathetic. Basic decency is just that. It's clear many people just sprout out whatever they think makes them seem funny or tough on the internet. If this represents the current dating scene, I pity those that have to pick through the flotsam that passes for a man these days.
P.S. I'm a man with a beautiful wife and 3 kids. I hope none of them ever grow up to be like the mindless losers that post pointless insults on youtube.
"Sarkeesian decided to leave the comments on her video, as proof that such sexism exists."
Why doesn't she just leave her own video up and prove that sexism exists? She is a feminist, and last time I checked that too was SEXIST. The author of this article is obviously pro-chauvinism when it comes to females declaring they are better than men, but they stop and declare that male chauvinism is wrong. Ignorance and hypocracy doesn't get much more obvious than this people! All I have to say is that people who attack her for being a sexist feminist (of which she has already admitted to) then they are justified. Sexism must be stopped, but from both sides.
I don't know where you checked that feminism equals sexism. Please quote your sources. Or if it was just a figure of speech, please explain. It is because of MISCONCEPTIONS like those you spread that it is so difficult to reach a stage where women will be considered EQUAL TO men (and not superior... the guys had a lion share of superiority for a long time, so maybe that's why you sound like you feel threatened...).
Feminism isn't inherently sexist nor does it say "women are betting than men" anywhere in feminist theory. This woman is exploring a topic where gender discrimination might be happening and wants to raise awareness. I hope you don't think that is what makes her "sexist" and pro-chauvinism." Actually, what is it exactly that she has said to make her sexist? Examples would be great.
No, hon, feminism does not equal sexism. One of the really simple, basic definition of feminism (and sorry I don't have time to source this) is: "Feminism is the radical notion that women are people too." It is not that women are better than men. If you think that's what feminism is, you're letting the extreme right do your thinking for you. Plenty of "normal" women are feminists, as are lots of folks who use the phrase "I'm not a feminist, but . . ."
You obviously haven't had a conversation on a regular basis - with a feminist in a real-life scenario in the year 2000+. Feminists define themselves by the group they put themselves in: feminists. Feminists have nothing good to say about men, ever. Feminist groups are most often membered by "victims" (whether they are a victim doesn't make a difference - they "believe" that they are oppressed - so in their minds they are victims). Feminists as they exist today do not base their occupation of "feminist" on the idea that "women are people too", and the proof is that the sexual revolution was over ages ago. Feminists today do not like men at all. That's all there is to it. They're lesbians or bisexual women with a preference for female partners. They propogate hatred of men through spewing useless history about the treatment of women, and justify their distaste in broad, sweeping stereotypes. Nobody wants to hear this today - society is mostly civilized in north america and you are free to leave abusive situations to find a good soul mate. They make themselves miserable and others who surround them. Misery loves company. It comes down to the fact that feminist groups are full of lesbian women. If a recruit to a "local feminist group" isn't lesbian, they're brainwashed into the whole men-are-pigs/abusers/rapists mindset. Those who aren't accepting of the doctrine "aren't a good fit for the group". Feminists play the game of leading men into believing they're loved, just so the feminist can get pregnant - and then parent the kids with their lesbian partner, and make the man pay child support so the two lesbians can live high on the hog. It happens more often than you would think. Men who are "feminists" are either gay, or bisexual, or just pansies that haven't come out of the closet. I've dealt with feminists and they're so brainwashed - it's a joke. The revolution is over ladies, society has moved on. Stop playing the victim - very few men are abusive (and if your'e dumb enough to still stick around those that are, that's your problem).. You'll enjoy life much more if you move on. Life is there for your enjoyment and you don't have to hate men to enjoy life. There are plenty of good men out there.
damn, that's quite an essay on the boogeywoman. no, I didn't bother reading it.
feminism is literally about human equality. no more, no less, PERIOD. and if you're generating the level of anger out of self-respecting women that would make you feel they "hate" men, then you've got to start analyzing what YOU might be doing to provoke it. they don't hate men, they just find you revolting/offensive/socially inept.
Unlike you, I did read it all. And, he's not entirely wrong. Except for the whole lesbian thing (seriously dude, what's your problem?) he's got a point. Like any group, there are good and there are bad apples. Unfortunately, the bad apples get the attention and sully the reputation of the group. For example, a lot of people hate Republicans, but not all Republicans are bad or even agree with all of the ideals of the GOP. Yet, a lot of people don't like Republicans. People are polarized too easily.
That said, you are doing the feminist movement no favors by placing ALL the blame on the guy above you (re: "then you've got to start analyzing what YOU might be doing to provoke it."). You really sound like one of the stereotypical man hating feminists when you do that. You can easily say what you said without placing the blame. We all say and do stupid shit, and we have to take our equal share of blame for the offense.
And seriously, guy above, what is your deal with the lesbian thing? Did a lesbian mug you one night or something?
@ Sickened, actually I do have lesbian friends. The issue is that I've seen way too many decent, good-intentioned gentlemen (including myself) who treated their girlfriends right only to find out the truth when it was too late. They decide that supporting the "women are people too" movement is the right thing to do, providing support. Meanwhile, they're buying into the game. Guys have to open their eyes. There are women out there for DNA and nothing else. They don't want to visit the sperm bank because it costs too much, but they don't mind sacrificing the income of those who they just messed-over. After the mess-over they go around telling their feminist groupies that they "leave the relationship because of abuse" (which is of course fabricated), but even if the guy proves this in court - courts side with women in disputes now, ruling that it'd have a negative effect on the kid), and meanwhile the women are pregnant because the guy bought into the lie, and the ex is living in a relationship with their lesbian partner - and meanwhile the poor sod that got messed-over ends up paying for these class-act scumbags to live in sin - plus child support - AND if he lived with her for more than 6 months --- he also pays for alimony due to laws of common-law relationships. Because she's backed by the feminist group, she can go to the cop shoppe and get a restraining order on the guy, and then their lesbian partner can move in with her without being figured out. She gets the house, the car, everything else. Meanwhile if she decides to be the "stay at home mother" then her life gets so much better, milking the poor sod for every penny he works hard for. Meanwhile he fights and pays layers just to see HIS kid. Then the kid is raised as a man-hater, and in the case of boys - they end up being vilified because of these emotionally-underdeveloped caustic people who call themselves "parents" - doing a mind-job on the poor kid - the poor kid acts effeminitely and gets teased and hurt by people at school - and the whole cycle starts over again. You hear about it in rap lyrics "but she ain't gettin DNA" for a reason. Too many lives are ruined by these sacks of man-hating filth called Feminists - and their lobby groups protect them with laws. Maybe they're not all the same - but your morals and intent are judged by the company you keep (aka guilt by association) and this goes for everything in life. Those who want to sit on the fence really can't contribute much to the argument because they haven't had experience. A tip for those straight guys who are in a "too good to be true relationship": if your girlfriend makes a point of nailing you with questions about same-sex parenting early in your relationship - as part of a "trivia" games they play with you (this is the main way they get their claws into you), and then chastize you for your personal opinion (albeit a politely conveyed truthful opinion), and she starts making a fuss - get out while you still can.
As for "Feminist" above, you sound like the caustic, stereotypical man-hater. We know your game. Please stop wasting Internet bandwidth.
Yeah, this is just about as wrong as you can get. Congratulations.
the gaming community doesn't want a whiney-noob-b!tch-dyk3 stirring up the pot, just cos she can't get some straight guy to bang her and get her pregnant, or just cos she can't play games for sh!t. if you don't like the way women are portrayed in video games, just p*ss off and don't play them. don't watch them. ignore them. and ffs stfu, we don't want to hear your whining. the women that are in video games are appreciated by the gaming community. we don't want to hear your life history. we want to play our games and enjoy the eye candy that we've paid to see. if your'e not one of us. just piss off ffs. we don't need your pissy-a$sed dyke politics ruining the last free form of enjoyment available to the straight community.
Your quality as a person matches the quality of your grammar. Just remember both are under your control if you decide to improve.
What the heck is wrong with you? Women have the right to play games too, and every right to have an opinion on things they pay money for. Not everyone in the gaming community appreciates 100% of everything, and if you truly think that you're completely ignorant.
You make me so sad, as a person. What happened to ruin you? : (
I think it was failing all those grammar/spelling tests.
Also, I don't think he was ruined, considering the culture of under-bridge communications. That was just trollinian for "I want my ba-ba". Baby troll and what-not.
Anita Sarkeesian if you are reading this... I am glad you're not taking this kind of garbage and I hope your get your research grant. Bless you dear.
I hope she's playin' those games in the kitchen.
Believe me when I say. This filth is not the gaming majority. Yes video games have been plagued with poor representations of women for as long as the industry has been big, but a majority of it's players quietly endure this misrepresentation through apathy.
Does it make it right? Hell no.
Just because a handful of sexist twerps out to get hits on their web-pages do this, doesn't mean this is the 'voice' of the industry. Anita's mistreatment is horrible but please, please, please don't damn the gaming community for it.
Sexism in games is a clumsy grab at what the gaming marketing gurus see us as. Typically they are somewhat right. Socially awkward dreamers that like idealistic situations. Tropes in games are a form of escapism. What they did to Anita is exactly what they had the audacity to call her on, Terrorism.
This IS the "voice" of the industry. This is all women are hearing.
it really doesn't matter if it's the majority or not. This would not be as prevalent as a problem if the majority didn't put up with it either. When this sort of harassment happens, the "majority" will usually simply state "we don't do this though, it's just a small minority."
the thing is, the small minority wouldn't act up if the majority did their job and enforced a cultural environment that is incredibly hostile to this behavior. Things like banning from forums and servers, disqualification from tournaments, auto-mute features in games, and just plain giving trolls and the sort no quarter whenever encountered.
it's been said before that all evil needs to succeed is for good people to do nothing.
To be fair. The crowd misrepresented by this sort of behavior aren't the ones running the tournaments or the servers. It is still a minority enforcing these rules.
And those that have power have made definite strides in the right direction. As an example Blizzard, who makes World of Warcraft and Diablo 3 has made leaps and bounds towards tearing threats to shreds.
They also actively changed offensive dialogue that could be misconstrued as insensitive to women that have endured emotional and physical abuse regarding their upcoming expansion.
It's just unfortunate (and the nature of news) that the loudest most obnoxiously offensive types get the most press. For every four offensive women stereotypes in games there is one unsung stellar example of those going against it. And it goes without saying the male stereo-types in games are face-palm worthy as well.
And because I feel so strongly about my words. I made sure to sign in under a verified account. This. Can. Not. Stand.
I, like many others above me do not agree with Anita Sarkeesian's views. The majority of modern video games are designed to be a form of escapism for a predominately male, adolescent audience. The first video games contained very few gender specific characters; Space Invaders, Pacman, Frogger, etc however there were very few girls queueing up to play these in any arcades I visited in the 80s so inevitably games shifted towards more male-oriented themes simply because this catered to the majority of the audience. Likewise, in film, there are movies which cater similarly to typically male tastes but equally female. I'm sure Ms Sarkeesian would no rather watch La Haine than I would want to watch The Notebook. If there is an interest in video games with a more feminine theme then I'm sure they will be developed. If anything, in my limited experience of recent video games I've seen a shift towards more female inclusion, e.g. Mass Effect. Obviously Grand Theft Auto and similar games fall outside this but like film, if you don't like what it says on the cover, don't watch it.
Those views aside, I am disgusted by the behaviour of certain people who chose the troll route for their response. I don't believe this is isolated to posts like Ms Sarkeesian's or even motivated by the content particularly, instead it was seen as an easy target which would generate a lot of response and give these pathetic individuals their fix of attention that must surely be lacking in their offline lives. Anita Sarkeesian raised a point she felt worthy of debate, therefore it should either be debated or simply ignored if deemed not worthy of comment. This is not an issue of sexism, it's an issue of people abusing a freedom of speech they wouldn't exercise without the anonymity of the internet to protect them.
In response to "predominately male, adolescent audience."
the Entertainment Software Association has the latest statistics about the gaming industry
women 18 and older make up more of the gaming audience than boys 17 and younger.
In that case, I stand corrected. Perhaps this will help drive a shift towards more positive portrayals of women in games.
Why does "catering to males" = glamorizing violence against women? Why do men and boys need to see women degraded to have a good time? THAT'S the point. Yes, we know this sells. But it's horrible that this is what it takes to get guys to get into a video game. Is this seriously all men fantasize about? Defending or excusing this as "catering to men" just makes men look horrible and depraved. Are they?
I have lots of female gamer friends who love games like Grand Theft Auto (and hate The Notebook), so your gender-specific argument doesn't hold much water. The problem is that women DO play those "male-centric" games, too. Even if women are the minority, why do so many men make it a point to mistreat the minority? It doesn't matter who the games are intended for. What matters is that men are "accepting" the fact that they're this way when they defend this kind of behavior and these tropes in the games. As if that's just "how they are." It makes me pity men for not thinking of themselves more highly. Is that really the image men want to maintain? Because that's not "Being a Real Man," it's being something no one should ever aspire to be.
Teresa, I think you're missing my point. I do not approve of degrading portrayals of women and I don't play games like Grand Theft Auto (the ability to virtually pick up a prostitute then beat her to death and steal her money doesn't really appeal to me). It doesn't please me to see it but whether I like it or not, there is clearly a market for this type of extremism in games and film. When you mention you have female friends who play games like this and possibly contribute to the industry responsible for them, would you not agree that to a certain extent they too are "accepting" that these negative stereotypes are OK?
I'm not even going to bother with the rest of this comment, but your choice of Girl vs Boy films just screams how heteronormative and narrow your views of gender are, and illustrates perfectly why the prevalence of these stereotypes in videogames and the media are a problem.
The films I mentioned were simply the first 2 which sprang to mind, I could mention many better examples if I could be bothered however since you can't be bothered to read the remainder of my comment yourself then I won't waste my time on it. You've jumped to a very quick, misguided and ridiculous conclusion in assuming I'm heteronormative. I'm a heterosexual male who respects people of either sex, sexuality, colour or creed equally. At some point did I say I approve of negative female or homosexual (as you seem to be implying) stereotypes? No. I simply stated the fact that this is the way the market has shifted (whether I agree with it or not). If you feel strongly that these stereotypes in games, films and many other forms of media should not be allowed then you should make your feelings known to the games developers, film-makers and media and also boycott them yourself and encourage others to do so. Put simply, if these releases don't generate money, they will stop being produced.
The more important point I was trying to get across is that I don't believe the internet trolls who responded to this article did so specifically because they feel strongly on the subject, they did so because they know this is a topic which is likely to generate the strong reaction they desire. I am completely against this, regardless what subject these morons are attacking and would like to see people who make these type of threats prosecuted as they should be if they abuse or threaten people by any other method.
V, you strike me as someone who attacks first and thinks second. In that respect, you're not much better than a troll and would do well to get off your moral high horse. Peace..
I think a much more interesting study to do would be examining the comments made about and at Ms. Sarkeesian's project and categorizing them according to this:
Why, just in the comments here, I spied "http://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/ad-hominem", "http://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/tu-quoque", and a lot of "http://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/bandwagon".
I'd also add one that's not on the page I linked to, nor is it necessarily a rhetorical fallacy: Kill the Messenger. I've seen this firsthand - if someone hears an unpleasant truth that hits a *little* too close to home, (s)he will attack the person who uttered that innocuous truth. The attacker then tries to twist the "messenger's" original statement(s) into a claim of an attack, in an attempt to justify their emotionally-violent reaction as "self-defense." In reality, however, it's just a case of out-of-the-blue Ad-Hominem because you heard something that made you aware of something you're uncomfortable with.
P.S. - Before anyone starts letting the 'c'-word fly, I'm male. And I adhere to the following definition of feminism: "the radical idea that women are people."
Wow, look at all the misogynism in this comment section.
Thank-you for writing this article.
It's amazing how many people here still prefer to attack this woman's character, motives, journalistic skills, rather than acknowledging how disgusting those trolls are. Hacking, vulgar messages, threat of rape and death!! No one in their right mind can justify that type of behavior.
Speaking of bad journalism and sexism, way to jump to the conclusion that all the trolls were men when it was completely unnecessary to do so.
saying the comments are chauvinistic is true. Chauvinism can be from both genders, seeing as how it is a way of thinking. I think you're getting a little defensive, and hearing things that aren't there. In fact, I can't find the word "men" anywhere in the article. Nice try, but I think that was your mental leap.
WON'T SOMEONE THINK OF THE MEN????
Another thoughtful and in no way trollish remark from V..
The 'internet' responded badly because Sarkeesian is sniping at sacred cows for the sake of self-promotion. If she really wants to deconstruct game characters on behalf of the public at large, AM talk-radio shows are a more appropriate venue.
One single game with a solid female lead is worth ten thousand hours of meta-feminist sermonizing.
No, they're not sacred cows. They irritate the shit out of lots of women who play video games, and who are planning to let their daughters play video games. Sarkeesian, and everyone else who's looking at sexism and stereotypes in gaming, is doing seriously valuable work for the next generation of gamers who might NOT have to experience their gender or race as limited, false stereotypes when they want to go have a little video game fun. It's not worth much if the "solid female leads" aren't making it to the mainstream. Pop culture is where things change.
Yes, certain video games absolutely are sacred cows. Tomb Raider is an excellent example of a game that redefined what people thought video games could be. It holds a warm and nostalgic place in the heart of many an aging gamer. I can still remember the first time I drew and fired Croft's twin pistols. It was exhilarating. But now, I'm supposed to forget this memory because Croft's shorts were too short or something? This line of critique is disrespectful to gamers, regardless of their gender. . We are perfectly capable of making our own decisions and of forming our own opinions.
Now, if you have a fully immersive game made in the style of Assassins Creed that takes place in the secretive Bene Gesserit? That is worthy of my money and attention. Prattle about hurt feelings and proper role models is neither.
Yeah -- and now Tomb Raider is being "rebooted" into a game where Lara Croft is nearly raped in the opening sequence and the player is supposed to feel as though you're "protecting" her throughout her adventures instead of treating her as a genuine badass in her own right. Way to *devolve* there.
Actually, no it isn't. One single game isn't enough at all.
And yes, you'd gladly relegate Sarkeesian to AM radio where NO ONE would listen to her, wouldn't you. Rather than taking the problem straight to the source (on the internet, where they live), you'd have her speak in a medium where none of the targets of her criticism would hear her. I wonder why that is? Could it be because you're afraid she might actually be effective at bringing attention to this oft-ignored problem? You'd have her be as cowardly as the anonymous trolls on the internet who freely fling insults from the comfort of their keyboards when they'd never have the guts to do so in public.
I referenced AM radio because it is where people with intensely unwieldy opinions congregate. It is very well and good for the people to demand better female role models. But you must bear in mind that committees make the worst, god-awful art there is. I will play a game based on my perception of its quality. Games like Myst, or Deus Ex, or Grim Fandango.
When you are building a car, you do not begin by designing the perfect seat belt. You start by crafting the source of the car's power. Without it, the car is worthless. Similarly, your modern views of strong female characters are lovely, but they must be attached to a vehicle in order to be of any use. Sell them a successful game idea that includes strong female characters, and this discussion will be happily moot in 8 months.
Ok seriously, i do understand the points made, yes some girls in games are made very erm sexy lol, but they are designed by men, are you saying female strong leads should be ugly or something? Men are portrayed in games as mostly macho men, Chris Redfield in Resident Evil 5 for instance, in Resident Evil 1 and Code Veronica he;s normal sized, in number 5 he's some steroid induced muscle builder.
I understand your issues, most feminists do have real issues with games designed by men with strong attractive female leads, but like has been mentioned above, equality is not optional to what offends you! You wear make up i assume, where revealing cloths?
Like i said i understand what your trying to get at with this research and i feel very sorry for you that you've had to got through some quite aggressive trolling from low lifes of the internet but sexism is a two way street, this is an issue that seems to be forgotten as equality is a two way street, my issue is that if your gonna target female characters in a game then you have to target male characters also surely otherwise your being just as sexist as the Games Designers your complaining about.
When have you ever seen someone who looked like a video game character in real life? The fact that you seem to think the women in video games are "sexy" (Which yes, they are made to be extremely sexually appealing), but then go on to say that the other option would be making them "ugly" is so asinine that I don't even know how to address it. Overly sexuality, or ugly. wow. I can now see how un-sexist you are.
Helen Lewis is deputy editor of the New Statesman. She tweets @helenlewis