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Anita Sarkeesian's project to expose stereotypes in video games attracts a maelstrom of hate.
Tags: feminism video games
I respectfully disagree.... I laughed for roughly 40 minutes saying that bolshevik Feminist Jewess HAHAHAHAH bolshevik is funny in whatever context it's put in....
...okay, I acknowledge that threatening people is insane and should be prosecuted, but good grief, if you can not take criticism and harsh comments, you really SHOULD stay out of the internet. Hell, you should stay out of the real world as well. Being polite and civil is NOT mandatory, nor should it be. Insults are a form of acceptable communication, as your own critique of video games proves.
As for most women being clichés in video games, welp, that's the way it is. And it's been pointed out ad nauseum. I doubt there's anyone who hasn't heard about this before. It's not liable to change, either, for the simple reason that people actually tend to enjoy clichés and easy characterizations. Hence why the Greek tragedies were and still are so popular.
As for this sexualization somehow being demeaning for women, so what? Does this actually somehow detract from your own life? Is it somehow wrong to treat fictional characters poorly? Is it a personal attack against you? Do these games encourage people, men in particular, to treat women poorly? Do women somehow get the short end of the stick when compared to men? No. Just as you have the right to your own morals, social mores and to decide just how you present yourself, so do the people who makes these games have the right to decide how they display the women in their games and how they behave.
Personally, I think the best way to change this is to actually present more gaming alternatives of good quality where female characters are treated in a way you seem to prefer, which seems to be in non-Slutwalking and non-idealized manner.
Being polite in the real world IS mandatory. Do you really think any of the commentaries would express their opinion in the same way - w/ the same choice of words to her personally?
Women in videogames - ok, we should just all accept the way things are? WHAT?! Why? No, it's not liable to change, so the greater the reason to point it out.
And the reason to point it out is to show it's a system. It's not something random. And this it what the youtube-commentaries show. Misogyny is a part of our lifes and we have to fight it in every possible way.
it is wrong to treat fictionalized women poorly, because this is one way that boys learn how to treat women. a conservative estimate is that 30% of women will be raped at some point in their lives. i'm not saying this is entirely because of the way that women are depicted in the media, but sexualized and disempowering depictions of women in video games (and film, and TV, and magazines) contribute to the culture of violence against women that exists in this society. I think every cultural producer has the responsibility to depict women (and all people) in a way that is kind. nobody is immune from this critique.
and women do certainly get the short end of the stick when compared to men. 2012 is a record year for women CEOs of Fortune 500 companies! There are 18 out of 500 run by women! more than any other year!
Really? She needs $6,000 to do this? This is a worthy project why? Seriously, is there anybody who might possibly watch these videos who doesn't already know about the lack of female characters beyond the archtypes in video games? It's like me asking for $6,000 to make videos about why smoking and eating nothing but bacon are bad for you. I have a good friend in the game design industry, and she is regularly out numbered 20-1 at meetings and events. She also finds that women are outnumbered 3-1 at Fan Faires, Game Events and Conventions, so understands why the majority of main characters are geared toward males. This doesn't mean it should only be geared toward them, and that if there were more games with kick ass female characters more girls would be involved in video games. It just seems this project is a waste of time and money, and the reaction to it is more important than any result she could produce.
This isn't a project that needs funding, the project that needs funding is to create scholarships and opportunities for women to gain entry into the gaming industry and change it from within. The project that needs funding is for a study on how and why men and women use the internet differently, and communicate on it in almost entirely different ways. The project that needs funding is to show people with no clue how 4Chan and other groups operate in a Darwinistic fashion, regardless of the targets sex, religion, sexuality or other specifics you can get riled up about. The writer and other women see this as an attack on women, when in reality, it's the same attack on whoever their target of the day is. If you think that this is something that happens to nobody else, you've never seen what happens to gay men, or anybody else they see as soft targets.
This is how they talk. This is how they act. This is who they are. This is how they treat each other, so why do you think it would be any different with others? You, and in this case, Anita, are merely a target of opportunity who they will neither care about or probably remember in 2 weeks.
Why is it that if people don't understand something it's not "worthy". Like art, you get the pros and cons where people say that art needs funding and the opposite attitude of "why should we have to pay for people to paint with their butts" (as an example). You might not see it as being a worthy study because it's "obvious" but not everyone has the same view.
Surely it's up to the individual to decide whether something is worth donating to, and clearly it is (or at least, has become so with the excessive vitriolic harassment she's received).
Ofcourse me and you know about this issue but I know a handful of wine who have never thought of this as being a problem. Similarly I know many girls who are trying to find their identity and are seeing themselves as nothing but eye candy.
Handful of wine? I'm not sure....?
Girls need more role models outside of models and Hollywood. Some female video game heroes of the non-pinup variety would be fantastic. When Tyra Banks would be 4 sizes too large to be a model in today's fashion industry, we have some serious problems with female body imaging.
ok, for starters. there ARE movies about how bad it is to eat bacon (super size me) and how bad it is to smoke (thank you for smoking). and those guys got way more than $6000 to make those movies.
second. what do you care if it's a waste of time and money? then don't fund it. you seem to have plenty of time to waste complaining about the projects which helps exactly zero people on the planet. at least maybe someone will watch her videos and try to change the video game industry a little bit. people learn things even when they aren't in school.
third. so, your justification for this abusive onslaught is that 4Chan is a bunch of "equal opportunity" haters? It's just as wrong to hate on gay men as it is to hate on women. We can try to stop all abuse together, it's called solidarity.
Yes, and Super Size Me was equally pointless. Wow, if you eat the most fattening meals possible at McDonalds for 30 straight days you'll get fat and ruin your health. Also, no, he didn't get $6,000 to make it, he made it on his own to gain publicity to get funding to make other projects. From that perspective, at least he accomplished his goal.
If you think Thank You for Smoking was a movie about smoking being bad for you, you need to go watch the movie again.
What do you care if I care if it's a waste of time and money? You seem to have plenty of time to waste complaining about me suggesting other projects that would make an actual impact on the game industry, you know, like funding scholarships for women interested in entering the field.
Your use of the word justified is curious, as I was not doing any such thing. What I did say is that this is not in any way, out of the ordinary for them, and that this person was not any special target. This is not an isolated case, and yet many of the people here think it is, as they ARE equal opportunity haters. Does it suck, yes. Is it going to stop? Only if people don't post things on Wild West style sites like YouTube. Using unlimited access and speech comes with the problem of having to deal with unlimited access and free speech. It's one reason you see more companies using FaceBook like systems to protect themselves and their message. They are able to eliminate the trolling.
ok, i'll admit that i haven't seen Thank You for Smoking.
but Morgan Spurlock spent $65,000 on Super Size Me. I guess he might have just pulled that out of his pocket... but I'm guessing he got investors, like most movie producers. So, I guess your main point is "why are we talking about this stuff that is so obvious?" Well, maybe it's obvious to you because you're a mega-genius or something. It isn't obvious to everyone. And each piece of commentary adds something to the discussion. Why not? Did you write comments on webpages about how dumb Super Size Me was? Or do you only choose to shoot down efforts to discuss sexism?
You raise a good point about solidarity, but it's not going to happen. People are always going to hate other people, it's human nature (for some reason). I'm not trying to bash you or anything like that, I'm just pointing out that fact. A world like that would awesome, but I'm not going to hold my breath for that day because I don't believe it will ever come.
These are the words of a coward. You really have no idea how much change people have brought about by caring and having each others backs do you? Civil rights, gay rights, fuck even the weekend - all through people coming together to give eachother dignity. The sad thing is that by refusing to have the integrity of people who do work together for respect and equality you condemn yourself to life's runner up prizes. What vacuums people must live in to not care about eachother. It must be lonely and inauthentic out there. What a squandering. Sorry.
human nature isn't set in stone. we build it (being humans and all). i'm not holding my breath for it to change either. i'm doing something more effective... working, arguing, fighting for a change toward more justice for everyone. this starts by protecting those who are being attacked, especially those who are systematically attacked.
if in a situation like this one, all we can do is come up with reasons why this awesome and talented brave woman is terrible for even trying to combat sexism, then shame on us.
Since when were the male characters in these games decent and honest representations of the typical male? Do the basement dwellers really look like a 250 pound roided out barbarian? No. This is ridiculous and I think the real story here is that people are paying her to play video games. If I wanted to start a project documenting my game playing make stupid comments about.. oh.. this guy here is WAAYY too big, no one could ever look that cool.. I wonder how much money I would get. Unfortunately I'm an engineer and I work for money :(
one problem at a time.
Dear Albert: Not everything is about you. If you don't like the project, don't fund it. There is absolutely NO WAY that your disagreement entitles people to make the kind of comments that have been made to Anita. None. The end.
And what do the comments made against her have any relevancy to the worthiness of the project?
It's more a comment on your character that after hearing about someone being viciously threatened with violence and rape and attacked all over the internet by many people for voicing an opinion somehow your mind goes to "well - I don't really like the opinion." Really? That's where your mind goes? What kind of men threaten women with rape? That doesn't move you? Does it mean anything to you? You've demonstrated exactly the sexism she is pointing out perfectly. You minimized the real live sexism and misogyny in action and effectively forgive it by using this time and place to attack her even more.
The worst thing about this is that the hate has given her awful project a spotlight. If you read her Kickstarter page her ultimate goal is to convince developers to avoid these character tropes completely, as examples of these tropes to avoid you will see she's put up pictures of Zelda, Princess Peach, Anya Stroud, Lara Croft.
I don't condone the harassment she has received but Anita opposes everything good about female characters in games and her Kickstarter page creates an environment of an us vs them situation: hardline feminists vs male and female gamers who don't have a problem with female character depictions in games.
Anita's project will not build bridges or persuade anyone. She would have done better to make a heartfelt vid to gamers and developers asking for a more diverse set of characters, whether they are male, female, black, white, asian or whatever gender, sexuality or race.
umm.... Zelda and Peach are both depicted as princesses being saved by heroes. Not a very empowering character for girls to emulate. (yay! I can STAND HERE until the real character saves me).
I don't know much about Anya Stroud (never played Gears of War) but from the wikipedia entry on her it appears that she basically acts like a secretary/dispatch for the boys (and a love interest too) ... and Lara Croft. Lara Croft is 100% sexualized. She is nothing but jiggling booty and boobies, scantily clad for the boys to enjoy.
The problem isn't that there aren't women in video games, it's how they are depicted. They are seen as sex objects, helpless, and secondary to the men. This isn't about diversity, it's about having women who are actually awesome in video games.
I would like to make it very clear that I am not opposing this project at all.
I would like to point out that Zelda and Peach were created in 1986 and 1985 respectively. At that point in time most "gamers" were males and damsels in distress has always been a big thing so it didn't matter then. I will say that times are different now and female characters are usually scantily clad, but they are still geared more towards the male crowd.
Let the record show that female characters are also not always depicted like that either. Metroid, for example, just shows that women are not always these subservient types. Samus Aran is a female and she kicks ass. Let's be honest here, nothing is really going to change the way video games depict women. Sure, some things might change, but the primary armor for a female character in a medieval type game is always going to be armored bra and panties.
With attitudes like your, you're right, things won't change. Projects like these are aimed at trying to change that attitude. It's people like this that change things. They realize that the only way to change things is to ACTUALLY GO OUT AND DO IT. Not sit back and say "Oh, well, it's never gonna change. Why bother?"
Yes. That's exactly it. Have some self-respect in your ability to do things for fuck's sake!
YES, THANK YOU. THIS.
While I cannot deny that women are by and large depicted this way...there are some standouts that buck this. Let's hope the research also shows the likes of Samus Aran (Metroid), Faith (Mirror's Edge), Chell (Portal). While a non-sexualized female lead is in the minority, it certainly isn't undeard of (and let's not forget some games like Mass Effect let you choose to be either male or female).
Unfortunately, strong characters like Samus and Chell still have their downsides. Samus gets a much more showy revamp in the newer games, and even in the first game, a bikini version could be unlocked. And Chell, while I love that game and character, is far from Gordon Freeman. We know about Gordon - he's strong and smart and capable. We know nothing about Chell - she is a tool to be used by the player. Even Mass Effect, my lovely example of a game that makes progress against sexism, has the ridiculous all-female asari with their maiden-matron etc. instars and the turians whose female counterparts never even show up.
I've noticed youtube has the most irrelevant and offensive comment board. It might as well be taken down for lack of value. That said, the benefit of being able to make content available to the Masses does come with a cost and the creators need to be prepared for the consequences. Sites like facebook that add a level of accountability to "the internet" may just be a working model for how the civilized majority chooses to safely post content and reliably find quality content.
So, she is talking about how women are portraited in video games and that this makes man... do what? I guess she didn't really hear about "pron" (you know what this mean), if that is good then I am baby Jesus.
Those who really think that woman are like the ones in video games or anywhere else for that matter (in the media) they are wrong and clearly don't go out of their apartments too often. edu for
I don't want to flame her, but I really think that she has some insecurities or some love problems and wants to blame the internet...
Um, hello, you ARE flaming her. You are assuming that, because she is a woman with an opinion that is different from yours, she has "insecurities" or "love problems."
The nature of your comment leads me to the conclusion that you've never seen any of her videos, and also do not know that she has a Bachelor's Degree in Communication Studies and a Masters in Social and Political thought. Hmmm, somehow I doubt that her critical view of video games is stemming from "love problems," as you suggested.
Fact 1. Anita Sarkessian got $64k in donations from the internet.
Fact 2. Anita Sarkessian got some mean messages over the internet.
Conclusion: Anita Sarkessian is oppressed like no other by the internet.
This logic seems a little flawed.
I like that your argument is literally "the ends justify the Mean." If it didn't result in such a beautiful pun, I'd be livid over your deliberately asinine oversimplification and thumb-up-my-own-ass selective blindness. Oh, you kooky kids.
Awesome, you missed the point completely.
I support the project but the author's tacit support of CENSORSHIP is more than a little irksome...
Prosecuting people for making death and rape threats is not censorship.
Identifying those who threaten violence and even murder is not censorship.
Before you think that a law making it easy to identify people online is a step forward, please read the following excellent text on the subject from the geek feminism wiki and take some time to reevaluate your position.
Supporting the project. Can't stand the haters, but good to see that the project is almost 10x pass it's funding goal.
It's not that surprising that people can be so nasty on the internet. I mean there is a lot of evidence showing that people behave totally differently when they are observed, or they perceive that they are being observed (kids less likely to cheat in a game if they are told a 'magical fairy' is watching them. Perhaps instead of the government/ corporations having control over the internet, periodically your phone or laptop should just shout out what you just typed so people can hear, maybe sporadically send your internet history to your mum.... or you know, teach that integrity and respect are important from a young age.
I also think that the characters themselves aren't especially damaging, but it is the lack of variation in the characters and their roles. And I think extreme sports games are pretty good at female roles right? There were some awesome girl riders on ssx3 and tony hawk! And the damsels in distress from mario are pretty good behind the wheels of their karts :)
though i agree that this is incredibly offensive. i personally would rather know that there are people out there with the sort of anger issues that make people write these things, than to walk around imagining there aren't.
it does at least reveal the hidden reality of what goes on in the minds of a few men, and better to know the truth than not know.
and at least if we see any men walking down the street looking as if they have indeed carried out the threat upon themselves promised by ocelot435 we know not to pester him for a date.
im all for equal rights for women and i would never say this to any of my feminist friends, but im sick of feminists picking out these 'stereotypes' aka characters in stories saying that there are so many and they are misrepresentations of women. Theyre not stereotypes luv, theyre archetypes. Now i will agree that there needs to be more heros like samus from metroid, but i dont go around bitching about every romcom saying oh the male is overly sensitive and he doesnt represent all males. although i think romcoms are cheesy and often times misleading on how romances and relationships really turn out, i realise that they are just a story that appeals to someone whos not like me.
Well of course you're not going to complain about the representation of men in rom coms (even though you just did) when you could watch an action film and see various different types of men characters, or any film for that matter. Men are allowed so many different types of roles in film, the hero, the smart guy, the big guy, the lovable rouge, the evil villain, the affable evil villain, the sensitive guy, the plucky comedy relief, and so on. Men are often represented through a variety of characters. Women don't usually have that luxury, in male centered stories we are usually represented as the love interest, or the chick, or the evil seductress. The romantic comedy genre sometimes gives us a chance to be the main center in the story, however that doesn't always mean that we're given the best representation there either. In some romantic comedies, we're sometimes portrayed as whiny, irrational and uptight. Also these stories are often so focused on getting the guy that as long as the character does, then it doesn't matter if she loses her job or her business, just as long as they get together at the end. Some people may not see anything wrong with this and enjoy these films, but that doesn't mean it's not a problem.
Yeah, you don't bitch about every romcom out there. Probably because there are literally thousands of different kinds of male protagonists in video games.
There are maybe three kinds of female protagonists in video games, none of which are particularly flattering. Though I can't expect someone with as poor a grasp on grammar as you to understand.
So, the fact that "feminists" dislike things you think are ok means that she deserved this insane torrent of filth, threats & abuse? Your entire point is "she's wrong for disliking these things (& I hardly ever whine about the miniscule percentage of things that might be the way "feminists" would like them)" - nothing about the reaction she got has many sort of impression on you, has it? A shame you;re anonymous - single girls should watch out for you.
And herein lies the problem with any attempts to even talk about the problem. Anon didn't include any response to the attacks but only spoke his opinion about the original Kickstarter project. Yet you take everything he wrote as a defense of the attacks on Miss Sarkeesian. You attack him for having an opinion that isn't the same as yours.
Whenever we're expecting an attack, everything we do is a defense. That isn't how problems get discussed or issues get solved.
And for the simple fact that I could be accused of misogyny and sexism, yes, I believe those threats were Wrong with a capital W, that the people who made those threats should be at the very least exposed, if not prosecuted. I also understand where Miss Sarkeesian is coming from with her women-in-video-games idea. I have noticed that,increasingly, games that involve an in-game avatar are offering players the chance to use a male or female character. It's a small step, but it's in the right direction.
And I hope that Miss Sarkeesian, in her video series, does highlight the games and companies that are doing it right. Showing people how to do something right is infinitely more useful than just pointing out that they're doing it wrong.
(And it's "minuscule," not "miniscule.")
The problem is real but your solution is incredibly wrongheaded. The government will prosecute one or two people for this kind of hate but will just use these powers for other, more sinister purposes, probably against protestors of some form or another.
Helen L made a good point. Most people wouldn't say such vicious things to someone if they met them on the street, if only for fear of retaliation. The fact that the internet cloaks your identity and hides you away from any possible retribution is dangerous.
There has to be a better way.
While this is completely vile, I do think we need to put it in context. If this was a 4chan campaign then we have to acknowledge that they are trolls of the highest order that will pick any prejudice of the day for shock value. It could be race, sexuality, disability, etc. It doesn't change the issue, but it's relevant. What we're looking at is more about the nature of Internet trolling and less about the inherent sexism in the gaming community. And how we deal with Internet trolling is probably one of the most interesting debates currently - do we give them power by taking their words seriously enough to incorporate into law, or do we ignore their pointless hate campaigns until they get bored?
What, exactly, is the difference between trolling and just plain being hateful? Intention? The sense of community felt between the hateful people? Fairy dust?
Helen Lewis is deputy editor of the New Statesman. She tweets @helenlewis