A video that I came across today morning on my Google+ stream made me aware of a topic of which I didn't know the scale and scope before. But it let me read several articles, videos and panel recordings throughout the day - and make a pledge for a kickstarter project.
The video I started with is from Jay Smooth, called "Ill Doctrine: All These Sexist Gamer Dudes Are Some Shook Ones" (3m 50s), who points out misogynist internet trolls that were causing trouble because of a kickstarter project this week.
The mentioned project is "Tropes vs. Women in Video Games", started by Anita Sarkeesian who runs the site "Feminist Frequency".
The project is a video games specific continuation of her movie related videosThis video project will explore, analyze and deconstruct some of the most common tropes and stereotypes of female characters in games. The series will highlight the larger recurring patterns and conventions used within the gaming industry rather than just focusing on the worst offenders.
The updates page of the project links to several articles and other pages regarding the harassment stuff. These links can keep you occupied - and in my case, read up much more, sometimes shocked and shaking my head.
I came in just in time to chip in some money to the now over 2700% backed project - to take a stance as well.
My surfing around the net about all of that also let me find the site "Fat, Ugly or Slutty?", where the contributors try to make fun out of the online sexism of gamers. Posted there was also the recording of a panel at Pax East (~50m) - At least their "STUPID" video (3m 40s) is worth seeing as well.
Another lengthy, but informative article, with further links, is also "Rape Culture in Gaming".
I'm bringing all of this here to both raise awareness and ask around to what extent you were/are aware of the problems of online-games sexism in general - and this particular instance of misogyny?
Last edited by Firefreak; 16th Jun 2012 at 16:44. Reason: forgot a youtube link
(edited and clarified a bit, but more words here)
I primarily mean sexism by the online players. Sites such as "Fat, Ugly or Slutty" show that this is not something you come across then and again, but happens all the time for female gamers.
I'm shocked about several points actually;
For one about the apparent coordinated trolling just because of an idea to do videos about portraying women in games.
Second about the widespread sexism found during online play.
And third about the not necessarily gaming related sexism that is still publicly present in male dominated communities, such as at the various tech presentations.
The reaction to this has been kind of astonishing really..
I must have seen it when she first released it, linked somewhere not game related. My reaction was basically - oh, her (I've seen that stuff before); a kickstarter for a feminist lit analysis, hmm, interesting. I wonder how it will do. Gamers will surely sneer and deride somewhat. There'll be a small fuss when they find out about this, if they do. But y'know, they can't help themselves some of them.--
A couple of days later: Holeeeee shit. The tone is about what I was expecting, but the volume...? Wow. Good work gamers.
They're never going to really convince everyone that there's no special gamer problem with women or feminism when this kind of thing happens and gets worse every single time.
It seems like people weren't going to let this go the same way as 'Hey Baby' and other controversies, which is kinda cool. How much money has her little, fairly academic, project got now?
The whole thing is just... I dunno, something.
Gamers are philistines. Game companies cater to them.
She's pulling the same critique that pomos have been arguing for the last like 50 years.
In the Internet age everybody argues / trolls every opinion under the sun.
It's a wonder people still get worked up about anything, but much less something this astoundingly predictable.
What more is there really to say about it?
That's my gut reaction to the whole thing.
I wish I could be surprised by it. But the fact of the matter is, gaming has traditionally been guys making stuff for guys based on guy fantasies. It's why games like Gears of War exist. It's why we have 30 years of scantily clad women on fantasy game box art. It's why the notion of a "strong" female character is often Vasquezian in its execution, and it's why Vasquez always dies.
In other words, gaming culture is a sausage festival -- especially PC gaming, since that's not as accessible as consoles.
In a lot of ways, the rise of the multiplayer subculture is a driving factor -- trash talk, especially when done anonymously, can lead to some genuinely fucked up comments on the part of the players if allowed to go too far. It's one thing to say "LOL I SCHOOLED U NOOB." It's another thing to say "LOL I RAPED U NOOB." And it's quite something else entirely to do this.
Part of this is plain legit ignorance on the part of some guys. Some lighter instances of this, and some clueless comments, aren't out of malice. It's just that guys don't have to worry about rape and other problems that women face and therefore don't get why the stuff they're saying is hurtful and stupid and insensitive. You can explain it to them, and they'll often get it. This, however, requires a modicum of intelligence.
Then there's the other guys. Unintelligent manchildren who act with malice aforethought. I think a lot of them simply have not been taught how to behave around women, and so, in a male-dominated culture, they've been more or less taught that this sort of behaviour is okay -- and they're too stupid to teach otherwise. Hence why we have, in an effort to prove that gaming culture isn't misogynist, a bunch of guys threatening rape and murder and calling this woman "an entitled nigger kitchen and hooker." Great job proving your dedication to equality, guys.
Femnazis gonna femnazi. Women vs Tropes is a masturbatory joke. I could do the exact thing for male characters. Burly hulking space marines! Real marines! Super confident tough guys! I can't live up to any of these standards! Abloo abloo abloo!
Well trolled sir. Although it is a little obvious when you hit all the cliches at once. You should try and space them out a bit and inject worse spelling and more swearing.
I think that'd be the standard femo line. And then without batting an eye we can already feel the indignation of gamers welling up, and know exactly the line we'll get back... WTH, now I'm some kind of rape-friendly misogynist because I like to play video games that happen to have helpless NPCs with big polygon boobs?! There isn't even a real woman involved here. It's fiction... And then the femo comes back with something like it's a reflection of structural misogyny & disregard so embedded you aren't even conscious of its assault on women's place in society... And the gamer is like huh, now I'm being criticized for my unconscious reflexes affecting all of society, are you serious? It's a video game. These women aren't even real! And the femo cocks her eyebrow and says indeed... It's a very old & familiar back-and-forth emo slog at this point. It's worth understanding why both sides want to get worked up, but getting worked up yourself about either side is overrated.
Last edited by demagogue; 16th Jun 2012 at 21:16.
If we're not supposed to examine the messages and imagery that is in our culture -- advertising, film, video games, whatever, and I'm not just talking female portrayals either -- because a bunch of people in the 1960s did it first, then what the fuck's the point of criticism and analysis?
Why does this shit need to be pointed out? Because we keep asking why it needs to be pointed out.
If you're responding to me, I'm totally for more criticism & analysis, especially if it's already been done before (all the more likely it's getting overlooked now). I love it. I just think people shouldn't react like "OMG, what are you even saying?!!" when both sides of the argument, or their typical style of responses, are so old hat, especially in the online era where arguments get oldhat practically overnight. It's like watching atheists & Christians "debate"... Do they really think they're going to stumble into some argument in a casual, emotionally-driven discussion that wasn't already hashed out ad nauseum in the 1880s? Just read an article and it'll catch them up about 100 times further than they could get letting their emotion do the talking. I'm not against talking about it more, especially in a dispassionate way by reasonable people over coffee or something, but just people getting huffy about it like they're the first ones to argue about it and their knee-jerk emotion is the source of all Truth at that moment.
Of course it's natural for everybody to react like that for emotional debates their first few times exposed to it, so I'm not even blaming them either. I just think it needs to be pointed out so they at least get the memo and can pay attention to their own emotions getting played.
Edit: I'm not like a self-appointed argument police though either. People can harp on whatever the hell they want to. That's the online world. So it's more a matter of just throwing that observation out to smack down any point or validation in their emotion they thought they had. Not trying to shut them up. Let them harp on if they insist... If I have any dog in the race, it's that I really respect whenever somebody actually does say something fresh & original about it. I like it so much when that happens that I can tolerate all the barking that goes on in the sidelines just in case somebody does stumble into it... That's why I respected this lady's project idea from the start and didn't worry myself too much over the hubbub it raised.
Last edited by demagogue; 16th Jun 2012 at 23:07.
Just wanted to bring out a point that is overlooked - female stereotypes are also male stereotypes. If a woman is expected to "be in the kitchen and raise the family" it ALSO means the man is expected to be "out working and providing for the family." How many times have we seen a man get heckled by his parents/society for not getting a job, or not doing anything with their life (while the female can get away with more slack; this is even more true in very traditional societies like India or Japan).
Or another example -if a woman is portrayed as the motherly figure whose duty is to make kids for the nation, it often does so by downplaying or even excluding the male and his paternal influences. Thus why a woman is almost guaranteed to win custody rights in court.
I am NOT discrediting marginalization of women and I do fully agree they historically have been and, in many aspects, still are far more limited in the society than the males. But I just wanted to show that there is another side of the coin, and every "limitation" creates a parallel "expectation" on the other side.
That being said, I feel some of them are a little one-sided. Take the Manic Pixie Dream Girl trope; yes it is true, but for each one, there's at least one romantic comedy where the males are equally one-dimensional serving only as a target for the female lead. And the pregnancy one smelled so much of entitlement issues ("how dare they explore pregnancy as something else than magical and emotionally charged of life-creation!"). But the Women in Refrigirator and Smurfette were quite spot on, I didn't even realize how widespread that really is when you think about it.
To answer a previous question: The kickstarter project had a goal of 6,000 USD and ended with 158,917 USD.
It's like words or phrases you used for years only to get told what their dark past is.
The Bechdel Test was also some eye opener to me.
Of course the trash talk is bad as well - especially and even more so when it becomes 'muscle memory' like in the article dethtoll posted.
I don't want to pick on you per se, but this comes up every single time some feminist opens her mouth about anything. Like there has to be some balancing of the ledger (if a woman, particularly a feminist, is observing something she must be complaining, right. Who will speak for men?!? OMG) It's not a revelation or particularly interesting unfortunately. What is though, is why so many people feel like they need to do this; like it must be made a battle of the sexes if it's not already.
I still blame 15 or so years of barely opposed Rush Limbaugh et al but that still seems inadequate as an explanation.
For one thing, no one ever addresses the entirety of an issue in every statement, nor can they. Even if they did, people by and large don't have the attention span to listen to something that broad, at least not until they're already well and truly engaged in the conversation (and willing to go beyond, "You're wrong and I hate you!") For another, so many feminists raise exactly those issues, but since they're not the loud, opinionated, extreme ones they're not focused on by people who want to score cheap shots against feminists. (Seriously: anyone who uses the term 'feminazi' pretty much Godwins themselves and voids their own argument, if it wasn't void to begin with.)
How many feminists does it take to screw in a lightbulb?
One, and how dare you...
Yeah, well said Muz. I was about to post something similar but you've put it far better than I could. Equality for women is not just about women getting the same opportunities as men but also about the things that are seen as 'woman stuff' being valued by society as much as 'man stuff', which would naturally lead to men being somewhat liberated too.
RE this Kickstarter - I think it's worth pointing out that it made its goal in 24 hours and was at well over $20,000 when she posted the youtube video and the shit storm began, so it was already a roaring success on its own merits. Personally, I chucked in $5 because it's an issue that concerns me and I've liked her previous stuff. I'm not always in 100% agreement with her but she articulates her ideas clearly and gets me thinking. Will the videos make any difference? In a small way, I think so. They're not going to cause a massive shift in female representations in games but I can see the odd game designer, who wasn't necessarily sexist but just naturally fell into the tropes, going "hmm, maybe I'll avoid that in the future".
"Women in games, with a few notable exceptions, are cliches"
Chell, Rochelle, Zoey, Alyx, Faith, Viktoria, Jaina Proudmore, Mara Jade, SHODAN (I suppose), Stacey Forsythe, Lara Croft, Governor Marley, Trishka, Grace Nakamura, Sarah Kerrigan, Cortana, The Boss (Metal Gear Solid 3), Cate Archer.
Wow. That's a lot of "few notable exceptions" just off the top of my head. Maybe she should dig slightly deeper than just the very top layer of bullshit games or stop being so incredibly selective. I mean look at the characters on the Women vs Tropes picture. Miss Pac-Man, fucking really? Daphne from Dragon's Lair, a character today's generation isn't even aware of, and five other ones I don't even recognize. Cortana and Lara Croft are debatable. And a character from a game that is basically softcore porn for men. Cry me a fucking river.
You can have Kevin James play a billion roles as idiot men that make the female lead look brilliant, but don't you dare make a game called Fat Princess. That's unfair...somehow.
Modern feminists huh. Those feminist from the middle ages had much more decorum I'm sure.
Amazing how a largely descriptive project (it seems) could offend you so much before it's even done. It's almost as though Dresy is brimming with some irrational prejudice.
Ironic that "feminazi" is pretty much the lowest level of that pyramid, isn't it?
You seem only to have assumed that this project will only conclude that gaming's representation of female characters is entirely negative, before it is even begun, and that this is somehow worth arguing against.
I think this is one reason why each side finds the other side so insufferable... Analytic types can't speak their logic to feminists, and feminists instantly distrust any appeal to something "universal" coming from a man (at least one that hasn't been a woman before & is trying to speak from their own experience). Of course if you've been reading it for a while, IMO it's not rocket science to pull out the arguments feminists are making that make sense from those that are grasping for straws.
So what you're saying is - bitches be crazy!
I can dig that.
Can we at least agree that so-called Men's Rights Activists are terrified, regressive monkeys?