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Obscene images, hate sites and a game where people are invited to beat you up have been inflicted on Anita Sarkeesian.
Would you be ok with this if Blizzard were asking for donations to make the next World of Warcraft game?
Would you be ok with it if Ford were asking for donations to make their next SUV?
Would you be ok with it if GE were asking for donations to make some new kind of lightbulbs?
Would you be ok with it if Microsoft were asking for donations to make the next Windows OS?
Most people wouldn't be ok with that because these companies can take on those expenses themselves to fund these projects. They don't *need* to ask for donations to do it and so they *shouldn't* ask for donations to do it.
Anita doesn't *need* to ask for donations to make this video. She has proven that by making a ton of videos on YouTube already and has been earning money from them ever since. The point is that she can do this video without any donations at all. She does not need them, she does not deserve them, and it's unethical for her to ask for them.
Also, who are you to declare what she deserves? Clearly thousands of people believe she does—are you so arrogant as to tell them they're wrong?
Yes, I'd be perfectly happy for each and every one of your examples. I'd almost certainly not choose to take any of them up on it, but there's a heap of things I wouldn't buy—why should I object to them being offered?
How do you know you speak for "most people"? It strikes me that if most people thought it unethical to ask for more money for a product than was spent developing it, there wouldn't be such a thing as an economy.
Blizzard don't *need* to charge for expansion packs. Ford don't *need* to charge extra for GPS. Microsoft don't *need* to charge for upgrades. NO profitable company *needs* to make profits. Again, that is what profit means. All of the above could sell their products at cost—they don't *need* to make a profit.
"But hang on, you've said she makes the videos anyway? Doesn't that mean she IS using money she's already earned to make it?"
Uhm... no. If she were using the money she's earning from the other videos she's making then she wouldn't be asking for a handout. This is my point.
"Let's look at Apple again. First they do R&D. Then, prior to announcing a new device, they manufacture a whole heap of them. Then, following the announcement, they ask for your money, and if you're willing, you give it to them and get the device in return."
They do R&D using money they earned from prior products you purchased. When they do R&D on the iPhone they are using the money they already have and expecting two things 1) to receive enough revenue back from selling them that they're in the black when done and 2) to receive enough profit from the iPhone so that it can a) become self-sustaining and b) earn money to support the R&D of future projects. They do *NOT* ask their customers to give them money to do R&D, they ask their customers to give them money for a product. These are two entirely different things.
"By your argument they should give the first batch away—they'd already made them, so it'd be unethical to ask the first buyers for a hand-out, no?"
No, because then they're just throwing away the money they earned on their prior projects. That money should be invested into researching the next project, and so on and so on. Just like Anita should invest the money she's earned from her prior videos into her next videos if that's what she wants to continue to make. If she decides she wants to make a feminist video game then she should invest her money into that. This is how businesses are grown. Standing on a virtual corner asking for handouts when you are perfectly capable of taking on the expense yourself is unethical.
"Uhm... no. If she were using the money she's earning from the other videos she's making then she wouldn't be asking for a handout. This is my point."
She's not asking for a handout. She's asking for money in return for a product. You're saying she could make the videos without that money, but that's what Apple do—they make an initial batch, then sell it.
"Just like Anita should invest the money she's earned from her prior videos into her next videos if that's what she wants to continue to make."
You're contradicting yourself left, right and centre here. If she'd be making the video regardless of Kickstarter funding, how is she NOT using money from prior videos to do so? And once she's done that, why shouldn't she continue to profit from it in order to fund the next one?
You've ignored my question twice now: who's getting ripped off?
Asking for something is not unethical. Demanding it is. She hasn't done the latter.
"If she'd be making the video regardless of Kickstarter funding, how is she NOT using money from prior videos to do so?"
This will be my last response on this because you're either too stupid to get it or a troll.
I make a video that costs me $5000 and sell advertising for that video. I make $100k from that advertising netting me $95k profit. I can invest any portion of that profit into my next video and keep doing the same thing over and over again, making a profit. This is what companies do.
Or, I can do what Anita is doing and pocket the $95k and ask for handouts to make my next movie instead. Now I'm using the money from the handouts I've received instead of the profit I've earned on previous videos. That is how she's "NOT using money from prior videos" and if you're too stupid to understand this then there's no point in continuing this conversation.
Given that you'd be ok for Blizzard / GE / Ford etc to do the same thing just shows what an idiot you are. If you can't see the distinction here you're f-ing blind.
You carry on believing that if you want. I'll just interpret your personal attacks as evidence your argument's collapsd.
LOL! That's probably the first time I've been told I have no idea how businesses work by someone who apparently believes profit to be unethical!
-Apple doesn't say ,"Hey everyone, we have a great idea for a new smart phone. Give us money and we'll get to work on researching it and developing it so you can have it later on down the road."
No, they say that to a group of rich people called "investors" or "stock buyers". Those people, along with your purchases, fund Apple. Kickstarter is a very simple analogy to the investment market - instead of investing in a company, you are investing in someone's creative project, and there is an expectation of a return. That's what the rewards are - your direct return. The rest of the return is the ability to enjoy the creative project.
Kickstarter is just like an investment. If it's a handout, then every major business and non-profit in the world is asking for handouts regularly.
Kick starter is nothing like an investment. When I invest in a company I have a stake in that company and I make money based on their performance over time and I have a say in what they do. I also continue to remain invested with that company until such time as I decide to sell my stock. When you invest in a kick starter project you get a "reward" and nothing else. You have no stake in the success of the company you've invested in and you are not invested in any future projects for that company. They are not the same thing.
Metaphor seems lost on you.
Yes, it is "like" an investment. You get a return in your reward, in bring able to enjoy the final product, and in a feeling of generosity.
Your descritpion of investments falls flat once you realize that many investors aren't in it for the long-term. They are in it to make money. To get their "reward" and nothing else.
Again, Kickstarter is analogous to a revenue stream in order to do a creative project. These streams in other businesses take the form of sales, grants, donations, investments, advertising, and a dozen other things. And often these revenues come from the exact same product, like advertising and DVD sales for a TV show. They are all legit.
But your problem seems to stem only from the idea that she doesn't "deserve" the money somehow. Who are you to judge? Honestly, you'd have a better argument if you just called us idiots for supporting her project, instead of claiming that she doesn't deserve the money because you think she already has some. You don't know her situation, and you don't know her finances, and you come off sounding bitter that you couldn't do better.
And sounding kind of clueless about revenue generation and business practices in general.
One of mine works 5 minutes from my house, the other managed to get publications I had written for to validate her claims.
Helen - I doubt any of this is illegal in the UK because, alas, hate speech law only covers issues of race. I don't think desiring legal protection against such vile abuse is necessarily consistent with an otherwise robust defence of free speech, either. Jeremy Waldron - an NYU and Oxford Professor in Political Theory - has a new book out causing quite a stir on this exact question. No doubt this is the sort of horrific thing he would classify as an attack on dignity, not the causing of mere, trivial offense. I've collated some posts on the new book here, for anyone interested:
Okay, I've written an extensive comment for posting here, but it's somehow blocked by a spam filter. I'll write down the jist of it here, believe me when I say I've put a lot more thought into it than I am able to show here. I'm not at all a fan of Sarkeesians work, and I believe there is good reason not to be.
First of all, she's targeting a business that I care dearly about ,her ideas not having much to do there in the first place. Video games are a form of fun, not a socially centered clever analysis of the world. Characters are one-dimensional simply because developers rather focus on fun gameplay.
The audience of the video games that she criticizes don't care for the ideas that she has, and she does not belong to the targeted audience. Why then, would they have to feel bad over portrayals that never were intended as harmful to anyone in the first place?
As for the cyber-bullying, it's what got her the money in the first place. I don't see it as couragious at all to go public with the comments, as it's an enormous part of what has helped her get what she's got.
Finally, this "bullying" is nothing. The violent game involving her is just a part of internet tradition of featuring beat up games, with no deeper intentions other than getting a laugh. A minutes search found games featuring Bush, Backstreet Boys, Al Bundy... a list consisting mainly of men, mind you. As the author self pointed out, it actually balanced out violence aimed towards men compared to that of women. Something that Sarkeesian should be encouraging, if she's really for equality.
Believe me I'm always one of the first on the front lines to defend the video game industry but I found your ideas that video games are one dimensional and go nowhere because it's all about gameplay unfounded. Sure there's plenty that are like that but there's plenty that aren't.
I'm a defender of the artistic integrity in the industry and I can give you plenty of games that are more than just one dimensional shows without any depth. BioShock and Heavy Rain being two of the big ones. The target audience of the industry do care what she has to say, those that actually have a brain though. I guarantee that most of the people posting and saying these things about her are frat boy gamers that sit around playing Gears of War and Call of Duty and have absolutely no culture and brains. They're offended by her ideas that their great industry has often mis-represented women and they're offended that a woman is trying to point this all out. While I find her opinions to be often biased and not entirely equal I think she deserves her shot and I'm with her 100% of the way.
The bullying is far more than just out for laughs. These are obviously creations of people that are offended by her butting in on their "man time" and are striking out against her the best way they can. Sure there's plenty of games out there that are comical and poke fun at people but this isn't funny or in good taste.
Wait, she can't be allowed to criticize video games because you like video games?
You're supposed to criticize things you like, that's how it gets better.
She's pointing out things that are obvious flaws, and your defense is more of a really weak attempt justification.
If anything, her flaw here is that she's putting a lot of effort into researching something you can see with a glance. The idea that it doesn't exist (because you can turn your head instead of glancing) is ridiculous.
So if I made a game about killing members of a particular race, they'd have no cause to complain because they're not part of the target audience? And it's "just for fun"?
I think you're way off base. Whether games influence society or reflect it, there is clearly a problem here and she's pointing it out and a metric-ton of internet tough-guys are having the cheese fall off their cracker as a result.
"First of all, she's targeting a business that I care dearly about ,her ideas not having much to do there in the first place"
Who died and made you King of Videogames? I play games too; I bet my GamerScore is higher than yours.
"Who died and made you King of Videogames?"
Some of the comments on this thread make me genuinely sad.
Many of the comments on this thread make me sad. Many also scare the sh*t out of me. I'm mortified at the number of people who are defending horrific behavior because they don't agree with the victim's point of view. WTF.
Are you going to engage in open and honest debate or simply sit on the sidelines and cry about it?
Oh look, another troll. *yawn*
i kind of thought my earlier comment did that. but ho hum.
Every day women who have the termerity to have a voice online are subject to gross hate language that has the sole intent of silencing them. It isn't about whether those typing the hate disagree with the women's statements. All too often the anger seems to come from the fact that women are daring to speak out at all.
Earlier this year I had to go to the police because I was threatened online. The person threatening me didn't engage in debate. He just used threats to try to stop me talking. To stop me speaking out.
As one of the other commenters here says, who are you defending? Why are people defending a game that's sole purpose is to intimidate and harm an individual woman? This is not a defence of free speech. It is a defence of hate speech which in itself seeks to deny women across the web their voices. The threat to free speech is this violence, not the requests for online hate to be challenged and stopped.
Here's the thing, Spokker; just look at the content of what you are leaping to defend. It's pretty vile stuff. And it's hard not to come to the conclusion that it is motivated purely by the fact that this is a woman doing just what you have rather patronisingly decried the poster here for NOT doing.
The beauty of Kickstarter is that if you disagree with or hate someone's project, you can choose not to fund it.
Having "an open and honest debate" necessitates all parties treating others' comments with respect (contrary to what Nicky Campbell seems to think). Drawing witless, sexually derogative images of violence does not constitute taking part in a debate.
"Drawing witless, sexually derogative images of violence does not constitute taking part in a debate."
I didn't draw them, but you'll use them to hide from our arguments.
And in that way, those anonymous men gave you the armor to defend yourself. They are your silent protectors. So you'll hate them. Because they can take it. They are the heroes feminists deserve, but not the ones it needs right now.
Those anonymous men are bullies, pure and simple. They are not protectors, they reek of sociopathy.
First of all - are you paraphrasing The Dark Knight at me?
Secondly - I'm a man who plays videogames and thinks that there are some hateful tropes that do deserve to be investigated (not that I want to fund someone to make a vlog particularly, but plenty do judging by the financial success of Sarkeesian's Kickstarter).
Some of these tropes - the ones Sarkeesian is interested in - reflect the traditional sausage-fest of games production and consumption, and the ongoing influx of women at both ends of the videogames market will naturally mean there is growing demand for games that don't rely on the whory old devices you seem to think are threatened by Sarkeesian's arguments. (Is she really THAT powerful in any case?)
Thirdly - the people that create and endorse these vile internet "jokes" (I'll go with it, though I fail to see anything humorous or clever about them) are going to continue playing and making video games, so I wouldn't worry about games with the one-dimensional treatment of sex, gender, violence etc etc that exists now disappearing any time soon.
Fourthly - you seem rather paranoid. I hope you are not as unhappy as you sound on the internet.
"(Is she really THAT powerful in any case?)"
Are the trolls really that powerful? Please. They have already been relegated to the shadows and if they come out, bam, instant professional implosion if they even have careers. So really, you have the luxury of viewing this stuff or not. It's really easy to ignore.
It's never going to stop by nagging people, though. You really need strict laws and regulation of the Internet, like a National Internet ID. Then the Internet can be like one big Taylor Swift song.
"Some of these tropes - the ones Sarkeesian is interested in - reflect the traditional sausage-fest of games production and consumption, "
Oh, give me a break. The more outreach they do for women to get into technology, the less they want to do it. Did you know the proportion of women getting computer science degrees has actually gone down over the years despite all this awareness? No matter how much you want to force the issue, women in general don't want to be involved. This does not mean no woman can work in the industry. That's clearly nonsense. Roberta Williams is one of the most iconic figures in gaming (for those of us who are old enough), and she reports no barriers to entry.
But in fields like psychology, it's lopsided toward women. K-12 teachers are overwhelmingly women. These are good union jobs. Women in general are outpacing men when it comes to degrees. Fine! I'm not complaining.
Women are getting ahead but they are not going it the way you want them to. So you want to shoehorn them into areas they generally do not want to be involved in, and then tell the rest of us we are keeping women out. It's nonsense.
If I were paranoid, maybe I'd blame the downfall of the American male on all these female K-12 teachers. But I wouldn't stoop so low!
It might also be worth seeing what happened to a female dev who happened to give an interview 5 years back that the basement dwelling types took issue with: http://www.themarysue.com/inclusion-what-jennifer-heplers-story-is-all-a...
I think you'll find people took great issue with her because she's a terrible writer, incredibly immodest and egotistical, and happened to epitomise the death of a once-great company (she got her job through her husband at the company) given her involvement in some of the company's worst blunders. This is yet another example of people who deserve harsh criticism playing the victim on account of receiving "death threats", and turning it into a debate on misogyny than the state of the gaming industry (which happens to be in absolute shambles at the moment).
That was a manufactured controversy.
No. She got plenty of death threats. So shut up.
If a crime was committed, by all means alert the proper authorities or shut up. Alleged death threats do not invalidate what a cancer people like her are on the industry.
"Sarkeesian is rare in sharing so much of the harassment that she has been subjected to"
What do you mean by this? She didn't have to share anything. It was all already public. It was shared in public forums.
This is NOT in any way, shape or form the kind of online bullying unknown minors. It is not at all comparable to your personal Facebook stalker. Everything is out in the open and Sarkeesian didn't have to take any of it from the shadows. It was already out in the open.
Helen here -
Anita Sarkeesian has - instead of deleting the abuse, or shutting down her website, or giving up her idea of making videos, or simply *not complaining* and putting up with this stuff - written about it. I think that's very brave, particularly since it gives people an excuse to say "she's revelling in it" or "she's exploiting it for cash". Much of the abuse is intended to shame her - would *you* want the internet poring over pictures of you looking like you were in porn?
I'm fat and ugly so no one wants to see me depicted in a pornographic manner. And I've been slammed, insulted and verbally abused on the Internet and in real life. This is what men do to each other in male-orientated spaces, from the playground to the digital world.
Contrary to what the peddlers of nonexistent gender issues would have you believe, it is possible to play games and remain relatively free from all these "hate crimes." Okay, there might be some shit talk, but that's the domain. Your mistake is thinking everybody is taking it seriously.
But what people like Ms. Sarkeesian do is come into the male-orientated "safe space," to use one of those psychobabble terms, and expect everything to change because of their very presence. That is the root of the backlash, and the backlash takes the exact same form that men strike against each other.
For more on how women infiltrate male-orientated spaces, check out girlwriteswhat on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KBgcjtE0xrE&feature=plcp
She uses the same sociological nonsense speak to push back against feminists. She talks about video games specifically around the 18 minute mark or something around there.
I'm sorry, but the "male-oriented" spaces you describe are anything other than "safe spaces." The very behavior you describe can be just as abusive and harmful to men even when it is done in a space only occupied by men. Just because it is "what men do to each other" doesn't mean it is right or good.
I am a man, and I make sure to avoid such toxic spaces as you describe, instead looking for places where I can actually be safe and comfortable, with people I respect. You are making the mistake of assuming that your space is a space that all, or even most, men want to inhabit.
If you feel that the best you can do is to inhabit these toxic "male-oriented safe spaces" I assure you that you can do better. There are people and places out there where your weight or appearance really won't get your face photoshopped onto a rape scene. I feel sorry for you that you seem to honestly believe that this is what men want.
Maybe they want to see your grandfather, your mom, or your sister. Don't you know any cute people you actually care about? Want to see THEM depicted this way?
It's OK to have differing opinions. It's really, really not OK to threaten or harass people.
Well there's certainly and sadly a market for fat and ugly porn.
Your argument appears to be "men abuse each other in male oriented domains and no-one really gives a damn so leave us alone to abuse each other 'in fun'" It is true that some men are horrible slime balls and never grew out of the childish urge to belittle others. Others of us aren't and did. The internet (even games) aren't "male-oriented spaces", they're "public spaces" and deserve appropriate behaviour.
Men do drawings of each other being raped by Mario? Who knew.
Also, what is this "male-orientated safe space"? YouTube? Or videogames? Because women actually make up a huge (40% or thereabouts) part of the audience for videogames. Also, if you factor in "men who don't like to send people drawings of them being raped by Mario", I think you will find that they constitute a clear majority.
I have no real stake in this argument but i'd like to point out...from your condescending comment just now, it seems you haven't really delved into the masculine phenomena in sociology.
Guys will actually do this, lol. And like, a lot more...like, a LOT more. Have you been to 4chan? Honestly, there's a lot more going on here than most people in these comments, and your article, fail to mention or take into account.
Anyway, people should never stop standing up for their personal injustice so do yo thang grrrl.
Some men will do it as a joke with a friend. That's way different than doing that to someone they are angry with. That's not cool.
I find it genuinely interesting (and quite surprising) that there are so many articulate and interested defenders of the crazies reading this article and commenting on it. I think that suggests that your (and mine) first reaction of 'oh my god that's both unbelievable and utterly, utterly vile and unacceptable' does deserve some analysis.
It's difficult, obviously, when it's such a horrific and personalised instance of behaviour - but it does raise this interesting set of issues about how mono- and bi-gendered conversations and (like every other internet related issue) the question of the extent to which context should inform our reading of textually expressed opinions. There's lots to say on this, for which this is not the forum.
So the interesting (from an academic perspective) thing here is that this is an issue at all. And that suggests that there's some manner in which this particular (male) community (as in, it's gendered male, not that it's necessarily exclusively male, or encompasses all males) feels under intense attack by the actions she's taken. And I'd suggest that - just as cancer isn't sorted out by palliative care and domestic violence isn't solved by refuges - the group we need to think about - to seek to understand and work with - are those who lash out in such a brutal and (frankly) bizarre manner.
I'm not suggesting this is your job, HL - you brilliantly identify and narrate what's happened, as so often in such cases. Just maybe, as in many troubled communities, the time is coming for some male leaders to stand up and start trying to work out what the problem really is (clearly, Sarkeesian isn't the problem here!) and identifying how to solve it. In general, protracted castigation just turns it all into a long mud slingling match which gets no one anywhere (Cf the Houses of Parliament). It's time we started working out how to do something about this kinda horror story, rather than just condemning it and waiting for the arguments to start.
I am reminded of this quote.
"Statistics are used much like a drunk uses a lamppost: for support, not illumination." -Vin Scully
Oh, the ESA statistic is bound to come up. It's the flawed idea that women are 47% (even I know the actual updated statistic) because they play Angry Birds and Bejeweled. Guess what, the men aren't around those games to offend your delicate sensibilities.
There is great variation in the type of games men and women play and how they play them. You won't find 47% female participation on PlayStation or Xbox. Even on the Wii, it's only as high as around 20-25%. ESA isn't going to publish anything like that because it doesn't fit the goal of making the industry look as big as possible.
So when you go into the Xbox Live games, you are going to hear shit talking (and even I have a solution to that, creating true dedicated servers where players can cultivate the kinds of experiences they want, but Microsoft won't do it). This is the same shit talking that has occurred in the LAN parties of PC gaming lore. So when women come in and say, "Don't do that. It's offensive." There is going to be backlash. That's the reality. Now if the service provider wants to handle it, they will, and they will probably rule in favor of women. But until that happens, the divide continues.
"Men do drawings of each other being raped by Mario? Who knew."
No, but my photograph has been photoshopped to depict me giving a bj and a separate photo depicting me taking it from behind. I filed a hate crime claim with the DoJ that day. They replied, "lol what."
Ms. Sarkeesian actually uses the abusive trolling at her expense to hide from legitimate and well thought out criticisms such as this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p6gLmcS3-NI.
The type of trolling described, by the way, has probably been levied more at men than woman over the Internet's history. Sarkeesian is a public figure now and nothing here rises to the level of personal threats. She is fair game to be parodied and lambasted as thoroughly as possible.
I have also heard rumors of false flags.
Helen here -
In the words of the late Christopher Hitchens, "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence". Do you have any?
Helen Lewis is deputy editor of the New Statesman. She tweets @helenlewis