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Anita Sarkeesian's project to expose stereotypes in video games attracts a maelstrom of hate.
Tags: feminism video games
wow way to miss the point of the article. You are right, men make video games and make them as they want them so she decided to, as a woman, make a game SHE wanted and did a kickstarter for it and got buried in hate for even thinking about it. Im not sure why you dont this is the point.
and PS sexism is NOT a two way street.
@sly fox. sexism is a two way street yes. but that street is heavily slanted in favour of men. if the playing field were equal, we wouldn't even have the problem of sexism. there are always people who are privileged when others are marginalized/oppressed/excluded. White people think being race blind is the best approach, but that just erases our view of racism. Same goes for sexism and homophobia and all oppressions. We aren't all starting in the same place. Men have an advantage in this society and they write more games, that's why sexism needs to be called out when it targets women.
and @Frank Perday. Who's stopping women from writing strong female characters? The number one barrier is the male-supremacist, sexist culture of gaming... precisely the culture that Sarkeesian is trying to deconstruct. She is raising awareness and making space for those sorts of characters to be made.
@ WHITENOISE : But your talking about a very small amount of men, not all men think the way you seem to think they do, and why are you bringing up rather different subjects in your argument? Were talking about sexual equality, not race and sexual orientation!
I'm not saying i do not agree that some female characters really are made a little to sexy, and if you'd read what i type you'd of got that, instead you have only read what you can argue about and left out the rest, but quite honestly i don't look at Lara Croft then go out in the world expecting every girl i meet to be some slim, big boobed gymnast!!
And you also missed the point about how men are portrayed in videos games!
ok, lets look at the unrealistic ways that men and women are depicted in video games.
women are depicted as: accessories, trophies, sex objects, assistants, hookers (in GTA), etc.
men are depicted as: exceptionally strong and well muscled
i think it's those who believe they aren't sexist because they don't go around raping and oppressing women overtly that we need to get the most out of this conversation. i think sexism is way way way more prevalent than you think it is, probably because you aren't a woman or haven't talked to any women about this kind of stuff. go ask any women you know about their experiences with sexism. seriously, go do it and see what they say.
If there is a lack of of strong women in story telling, why doesn't the feminist simply write stories with strong women?
Who's stopping them from doing that? Who's stopping them from publishing comics or games with strong non sexualized female leads?
Yeah, wow. Why didn't anybody think of that before? You've made it soo simple!
"who is stopping them?" really? Really!? Did you not just read the article? Here is a woman trying to raise money to study a subject that interests her and look at the response. Women are discouraged from all kinds of fields from day one and it is much harder for a female to get things like films and comics produced and published. Look it up.
I don't even know what else to say. It is obvious you are grossly uneducated in this area.
So instead of going out and write strong female leads, they want to force men to write stories with strong female leads? Sorry, but that doesn't make any sense at all.
There is no one stopping females from starting their own publishing companies, and they could focus solely on feminist comics/movies/games.
I like the part where you assume there are no female game designers.
And the part where you assume most game designers aren't being told what to produce/ having their content taken back to them with an ordered "make this more ___ so it will sell".
And the part where you think that any of what you said was a good argument.
Could you possibly be more ignorant and ridiculous? In your world, insisting on fair and equal treatment means "force men to write stories with strong female leads." Why do you have such a problem with telling men to stop being sexist?
EVERYONE SHOULD PAUSE TO READ THE COMMENT ABOVE.
They are out there. Mostly they are distributed by smaller independent companies, but they are out there, and you aren't the first person to have this idea. *BUT*, the Big Two comics publishers are still old boy networks, with DC actually taking steps BACK with their new reboot of their characters.
Also, which feminist do you mean when you say "the feminist"? There are a bunch of them, although I assume you're referring to the comic book writing feminist.
I meant feminists in general. Accidentally dropped an S.
Instead of forcing "boy networks" to make feminist comics, why don't the feminists make a publishing house themselves?
i. Sarkeesian wanted funding to research something which she already holds a rigid opinion about.
ii. Despite her being a 'trained researcher' Sarkeesian has neglected to propose any sort of research outline for the project, including method of data collection and how her research would be organized to ensure accuracy.
iii. Sarkeesian has neglected to mention any of the other potential issues in video games such as male character portrayal; violence; lawlessness; and the effects on the behaviour of children, addictive, sedentary and dietary effects of video gaming, yet she goes on in her pitch to gleefully propound her opinion of the 'positive' impacts of gaming.
iv. Sarkeesian has been playing video games for many years, and by her own admission is a somewhat 'frequent' video-gamer; it is interesting then to note that her passion for gaming, and the role-playing games she has a problem with, has not at all diminished at all over the years, but instead has increased!
One would have thought that the more interesting research study would have been to investigate what drives someone like Sarkeesian to be compulsively attracted to immerse herself in a leisurely occupation that she is clearly so repulsed by, and moreover to then seek to make her hobby her 'profession' and ask for donations for engaging in it. Also, isn't is just a tad bizarre that having regularly funded over the years not just the industry, but the very game-makers who make the games she ostensibly dislikes, she has now requested more money to purchase more of these games?
It is certainly Sarkeesian's prerogative to 'look at' the way female characters are portrayed in video games, and the ad hominem attacks on her were certainly vicious at times, but she didn't put forward the best argument I've heard; and what she proposes is hardly even good journalism, not to mention good research.
As of this moment she has received donations of almost 11 times that what she asked for; the question remains as to what she plans, and is seen to do with the additional money. Perhaps she will give it back, but what is more likely is that she will use it for some more self-serving positioning disguised as community spirit (as well as buying more of the games she dislikes, in the name of research).
If you and the rest of the internet believe that her idea is dumb, a waste of time, pointless, etc. then her kickstarter should have been ignored. That's how kickstarter works. Ideas that appeal to others - get funding. Those that don't appeal - die.
What should NOT happen, in either case, is abuse.
Lots of women play video games despite the hideous stereotypes and absence of strong female characters. Why? Because video games are fun. That doesn't mean they are not flawed and that those flaws don't irritate women everywhere, myself included. And the video game market is increasing partly because of the new character customization options in games like Mass Effect, Saints Row, etc. You can play as yourself no matter your race or gender.
Have you ever seen any of her other videos? I've always found them incredibly well researched and thorough.
Interesting that the thing you took away from this article was 'let's critique Sarkeesian's initial proposal and cast aspersions on her intentions' rather than you know....blatant misogyny and threats of rape and violence towards a woman who holds different views than you is never allowable.
"It is certainly Sarkeesian's prerogative to 'look at' the way female characters are portrayed in video games, and the ad hominem attacks on her were certainly vicious at times, but she didn't put forward the best argument I've heard; and what she proposes is hardly even good journalism, not to mention good research."
You do realize you stray dangerously close to 'well, she practically deserved it for being such a shitty journalist' territory, right?
Then again, you probably don't care, and are about to critique my grammar and tell me I didn't put forward the best rebuttal you've heard.
IMO, she is not attempting journalism in the video above. She is aspiring to become a demagogue. And it kinda feels like the book-burning kind...
God, Abraham Lincoln was such a book burner.
Careful! Lincoln was a loose cannon that suspended Habeus Corpus, took unusual control of the army, and very nearly became our first military dictator. While I respect his legacy and success, I would question the comparison between antsy schoolmarms in need of a lucrative career and sainted heads of state.
What a lot of people are forgetting is that when Super Mario Bros originally came out, "Peach" was named "Princess Toadstool," and it was decided sometime after that to give her a more "feminine" name. Investigating sexism on THAT level might be a worthwhile project.
Pretty sure that would be included. In fact, she said it would. "I'm not just looking at a handful of games, or just the worst offenders." In fact, the very example you bring up, Peach, is featured in the Tropes vs Women: Video Games title art! Go figure, huh?
/b/ is leaking into the comments again. No surprise there. At least they found a past time aside from fapping to their mothers.
I can't help but notice how everyone on this comment board defending the internet bullies completely neglects to mention the website vandalism and organized smear campaigns by a select few IP addresses, which the article lists along with the threats of rape and violence. This article is not about "anonymous insults from people on the internet." It is about genuine online harassment and destruction of web property.
I'd like to point out your comment on Jennifer Hepler is misdirecting.
Her "innocuous statements" about video games were infuriating because they pointed out her utter deficiency in her role as story writer for the interactive medium. This was a fan response to frustration at poor hiring policies at Bioware Corp.
The "internet" actually made a point of comparing Hepler to a female story writer at game company ArenaNet (behind Guild Wars 2) who is talented, energetic, and enthusiastic about video games and the game medium in contrast, constantly playing and learning about them and testing her own game repeatedly to further delve into the story and its ideas.
Jennifer Hepler said she hated games and hated playing them, and wanted the option to skip the gameplay in order to see the story. She is sadly not qualified to be in her position - Bioware's hiring policies state in all job descriptions applicants must be enthusiastic and passionate about video games.
In addition to Nangina's comments, I would add that whether or not the attackers felt that they had a legitimate beef with Hepler's comments, the attacks are noteworthy because of the violent and misogynist nature of the attacks. A man who made similar comments in that context might have been booed down, but there would not have been threats of rape and personal violence. Her gender seemed to be an inciting factor in the outcry.
Additionally, I don't know why you're defending the attacks. Yes, people might have been frustrated, but if they had a genuine argument against her, they should have said that instead of the awful things that they did say. Frustration is not an excuse for abuse.
That is a blatant and absolute lie in its purest and most self-serving form. In fact, Jennifer Hepler did not say that she hated video games -- she said that she hated some aspects of gameplay that lead players to frustration with the game, frustration that leads them to give up on the game before they have a chance to see the complete story to unfold. She committed the capital offense of suggesting that some combats could be rendered skippable -- just as may noninteractive cut-scenes are skippable in games nowadays -- and the BioWare Forums turned on her like a pack of rabid animals. The fact that BioWare feels she's qualified for her position -- which is, by the by, story writer not lead systems designer -- suggests that her critics are, to put it delicately, the sort of misogynists who simply cannot stand to see a woman in her position and will do anything at all to tear her down, including publicly lie about remarks she made more than five years ago.
Your article was very informative and generally very agreeable. However, being a male gamer of the target (18 to 25) age group of the majority of games with these more mature themes, I would venture to suggest that you're giving a bit too much credit to what appears to be a group of undereducated and immature reactionists that more than likely just didn't have anything better to do with their time while they surfed the internet all day waiting for their next game to come out. And if you're arguing that cencorship and surveillance of the internet is the preferred solution to this issue, I would say that's just another step in the wrong direction.
Just what is wrong with a little bit of surveillance or censorship? People have a kneejerk reaction to the concept, but it proposes to make people actually accountable for what they say online. That's a good thing! I can understand the opposing of SOPA, because that was a poorly worded, ambiguous mess which left innocent people vulnerable. But what is the problem with a more carefully implemented form of net censorship that puts pressure on bullies, death threats, and other such behaviour that would get you arrested or shit-kicked in any other walk of life.
Before someone counters my post about slippery slopes and Orwellian surveillance, I am not proposing that every computer be monitored and every swear expunged. I'm just saying people should be made to be a bit more god damned responsible for what they do online, and a bit of policing might help that.
The problem is that this isn't an odd occurrence. I am a female gamer and I can tell you that while it's disgusting that this happened, it's not surprising. As soon as people find out I'm female the slurs, sexism, and misogyny never stops in gaming. I'm glad that you're not one of those male gamers and I'm glad you've apparently never been witness to this kind of act, but don't for a minute think that it's an unusual reaction or that this is just some small subset of gaming. If you're woman, it's what's to be expected as soon as you enter gaming online.
I have to disagree. I'm female and play plenty of games, and the reaction you talk about is happening less and less, and has become a rarity. As well, in most community with a skill filter you'll stop seeing twelve year olds very quickly and be able to enjoy your game just fine if you have bit of skill. The only women I see who still struggle with it are the delicate few who aren't experienced in games- who end up with a bad first impression- and those who don't shut up about being a girl. You can't pretend you don't know the type. If you just sit down and play like anyone else, no one will call you out the first time they hear your voice.
Unless of course, you're on Xbox's chat, and even being a man won't shield any harrassment for you there.
I'm glad you're seeing it less and less, that's awesome. But that hasn't been my experience. In fact, it seems to be progressing and more common and accepted these days. I don't constantly talk about how I'm female, I mean it comes up but I'm not one of those who are constantly labeling themselves a "girl gamer" (I kind of hate the title. ), but people still lob the insults my way. In fact, it seems you don't even have to be id'ed as female, the gendered insults will fly no matter what (b**ch, wh**e, c**t, rape jokes, etc). Which is not okay.
Maybe it's just the type of games I play or I'm just incredibly unlucky. But it's still pretty damn common in my gameplay if I play with or against any random/PUGs.
As you are a girl gamer. Can I ask you if you support this woman's project?
I do not support the abuse she is receiving but when I see someone asking for 6 thousand dollars to make a few youtube videos on any subject all I see is a scam. especially since she has made so many without donations already.
When I saw that this project made over 60 thousand dollars I had to shake my head in disbelief.
Ironic then that the /b/ advertising seems to have bumped up the funding..
I won't answer for her, but in my opinion, it is a normal state of progression when a director wants to shift from amateur, webcam vids to professional looking, better researched documentaries. That is not a cheap transition. No one has to give her anything, and everyone who did so, freely volunteered the money. If she makes the better quality vids people paid her to make, she's done her job. No one was scammed.
I don't support it monetarily because I'm not in a position to donate, but yes I support the idea. I think it'd be a really interested project - I love deconstructing tropes not matter the subject.
If you don't support it, you don't have to donate. That's the beauty of Kickstarter etc, the only people donating are people who want to. It doesn't matter if you think it's a "scam" or something not worth your time, nobody is forcing you to donate, support, like, or even watch the end product.
That's really what I don't get about this whole mess. Why do the haters care so much? If you don't like it, move on by. There's a whole internet full of things to look at and support, why make such a fuss when nobody is forcing you to participate or even like this project?
The problem with this is that you in a way are looking for internet censorship. Looking at the posts made that had threats or rape and murder, sure internet censorship looks like a great idea. Everyone seems to be leaving out one key thing here, almost everything posted is from 4chan (at least suspected to be from 4chan) which is a message board full of "trolls" who are going to manage to get campaigns like this out there even if you take their anonymity away from them and censor the internet. If you look at other websites on the internet where people can be anonymous such as reddit (follow link to reddit post about this article http://www.reddit.com/r/gaming/comments/uybdz/this_is_not_ok/ ) you see that there is people on the internet who do not take advantage of their anonymity and who have calm usually unbiased discussions without being internet "fuckwads", if you browse reddit all day you may find a FEW "trolls" but not many. Now with that said, I think the threats made were awful and would never say such things to any woman (my parents raised me better than that) but censoring or taking anonymity away from the internet would also be hurting communities like reddit who really have not done anything to deserve that.
I haven't heard her asking for censorship. she chose to keep all of the comments on youtube, even though she could have removed them. it seems like she is pushing education and awareness raising by critiquing the video game culture. if anything she is adding to the total speech about this subject. 4chan trolls are silencing and censoring her through intimidation tactics. she hasn't tried to pass any laws, make any policy changes, or do anything that limits people's rights to speak about anything. she is just making a program that exposes and displays the sexism that is endemic to the video game industry.
Sorry I should have clarified. I was not speaking about Ms. Sarkeesian when I said that, I was speaking about the author of the article who talks about laws made to take anonymity from the internet and pass laws that stop people from being "trolls" on the internet.
It's not censorship, it's accountability for one's actions/words. There's a massive, and important, difference.
You may call it whatever you like but if they were to take anonymity away from the internet and have government create laws to stop people from being "trolls" and being mean on the internet is censorship. Whether you think it is being accountable for your actions, if the government creates laws to stop people from saying whatever they would like on the internet is still censoring the internet, I don't see any possible way that it could not be considered censorship.
So what do you suggest we do about tangible threats of violence on the internet? No sarcasm intended, actually curious.
I see what you're saying, certainly, and I'm all for anonymity on the internet -- in theory. But unfortunately in practice people don't just use it to speak their mind, they use it to bully, to threaten, to inflict pain. It sounds exaggerated, but cyber bullying is a real issue.
If there's a way around it apart from calling for accountability (ie 'censorship), I'm all ears. Honestly.
free speech laws have never applied to threats, it's not censorship. nobody has the right to express their intention to rape and kill you.
Removing anonymity in no way, shape or form can be construed as censorship. Whether your name is present or not, you are still free to say whatever you want. Removing anonymity merely forces you to face responsibility for the things you say.
Right on! Couldn't agree more. If you have something to say, why do it anonymously? I have to wonder if deep down, the people who slander and threaten people online or anywhere anonymously know they are wrong to do so, but can't help themselves because they are unbalanced in one way or another. Just a thought. If you don't like what she or anyone has to say about games and gamers, either don't read it, or give a thoughtful responsible and well worded reply.
Nice dodge: "...call it whatever you like..."... - just admit that you were wrong, dammit.
If you have an opinion and would like to express it and can't do it if you're not anonymous - then maybe you should reconsider you're opinion.
I really hate the idea of being exposed on the web but it won't stop me from expressing my opinions.
I have been attacked by trolls - in the mildest sentence - and by god it's horrific! The internet would be a fair place if not for the trolls.
I have to admit after reading her wiki im all for internet bullying. That was hillarious.
Also this broad should pull up her thong and toughen up the internet
Is a mean and dangerous place filled with lonely and bored people.
She can rest assured no matter how many threats she gets
The fat nerds thinking this shit up dont have a dangerous in their body.
Futhermore I believr she should make that guy a sandwich who offered to donate $50.
Money is money right?
You haven't been harassed by trolls, have you?
There is nothing funny about it.
I'm pretty sure an obvious troller like that isn't going to respond the way you want. I kinda want to ask you a similar question. "How many trolls have you actually experienced?"
But we seem to be on the same side of an argument, so take that in a friendly tone.
Helen Lewis is deputy editor of the New Statesman. She tweets @helenlewis