The Feminist Gamer Tidal Wave

It’s no secret to anyone who runs in the communities I do (nerds, gamers, reviewers) that something is indeed amiss. Social changes are often sparked by one large, public event that sparks an outrage- that seems to trigger a host of other events. Enter Anita Sarkeesian. If you don’t yet know about Anita and the controversy surrounding her kickstarter project. Feel free to fill yourself in:

• Tropes Vs. Women In Video Games Vs. The Internet – Rock Paper Shotgun
• This Week In Harassment – The Borderhouse Blog
• Kickstarter Video Project Attracts Misogynist Horde – The Escapist
• Tropes vs Movie Bob – The Big Picture, The Escapist [VIDEO]
• Feminist Frequency Kickstarter project smashes target – Games Industry
• Awful Things Happen When You Try to Make a Video About Video Game Stereotypes – Kotaku

Now that we’re all caught up, I think we all sort of know – on some level, anyway- that video games have sexist representations of women. That’s not really debatable. And for those of you who will invariably choose the “men are objectified too” route. No… just, no. Get your facts straight, and then rejoin the conversation. We’ve all debunked this argument more times than is necessary and we’re moving on. But I think many were legitimately shocked at the harassment, death/rape threats and so on. I wasn’t really shocked- it’s that kind of retarded behavior that keeps me from bothering with XBOX Live. And I mean “retarded” in the most literal of terms- as in “completely stunted“. I’ve never known a person with developmental disabilities to use the phrase “uppity Jew cunt”.

I think as nerds/gamers we think we live in a futuristic community that is somehow above this kind of behavior. Like misogyny is regulated to Bro culture and frat parties. Clearly we’re far too smart to participate in this kind of Neanderthal shit, right? That was our bubble, and it got burst. And then it got better.

Crystal Dynamics walks onto the scene with quite possibly the worst timing in gaming history. They had redesigned Lara Croft to be less sexualized and had been given a pat on the back from modern society. Then unfortunately took two steps back, fell down the stairs and promptly shit their pants. After Sarkeesian showed us that some gamers are extremely sexist, Crystal Dynamics proved that even those who are trying are fucking up due to a complete lack of understanding. At least that’s how I see it. The Tomb Raider thing doesn’t come off as malicious to me, just ignorant. Which is almost worse because it’s easier to defend. Ya dun fucked up, C.D. It’ll be okay, but maybe you should like… talk to women before you try to flesh out female characters.

By the time the new Hitman trailer waltz in to the party- 2 hours late and wearing only a sign that says “MAKE ME A SAMMICH”- everyone was ready to fucking kill. I don’t even need to break down whats wrong with it. You either get it or you don’t. And really, it’s not any worse than most games that have been coming out for years, it just came out at the best time to be a perfect example of the level of sexist bullshit in gaming. No worse, just the status quo.

And if you’re extra local to this neck of the internet, you’ll know all about the uproar that happened at TGWTG. If you are a fan, then you already know. If you aren’t- you probably don’t care. moving on)

We’re collectively discovering something about ourselves. It’s difficult- for nerds especially -to accept that something about the status quo is fucked. That a facet of our community is really destructive. Not just to the outside world, but to us personally. Over the last couple weeks I’ve seen all manner of reactions. Some completely agree that it’s an issue and are standing with female gamers. Others are striving to find any tiny crack in the argument. This is frustrating, but at least these guys are being coherent. Pro tip, gentlemen: you’re not right. Just let it go. It’s not like anyone is blaming you directly, no one is calling you a misogynist pig. We were all raised in a culture that created this mindset, we’re all at fault, so do yourselves a favor and don’t take the criticism so personally.

The last group was inevitable: unabashed, juvenile temper tantrums. This is the sub group of nerds/gamers who just have no coping skills- they cannot tolerate any form of criticism. Mostly dispensing the same “FUCK YOU BITCH, GET BACK IN THE KITCHEN” joke that hasn’t been funny “BAREFOOT AND PREGNANT” was funny and that was never funny. These are the true man children of our community. I’m actually reminded Tom Green in “Freddy Got Fingered”** screaming “Look Daddy, I’m a farmer!” as he jacks off a horse. It’s the knee jerk reaction of someone who simply cannot cope and has to react by simply becoming what they are accused of being. “Oh so I’m an asshole? Well I guess I’ll just be an asshole then!” he shrieks as he throws his toys around the playground.

I really hate the modern idea of “It’s the internet, what do you expect?” that’s such a cop out. It gives a free pass for real people to participate in hate speech, death threats, and insane misogyny without any social consequences. What do I expect? I expect a little more out of those who consider themselves superior to Bro culture. I expect you to grow the fuck up and stop acting like a little bitch. There’s a problem, so why don’t you put on your big boy pants and do something about it? Or you can sit here in the sandbox and whine. The rest of the nerds are going to join the 21st century.

** Don’t watch Freddy Got Fingered, just watch the review by Nostalgia Chick, Nella and Oancitizen. I’m not a monster, people.

2 thoughts on “The Feminist Gamer Tidal Wave

  1. Maybe it’s because I’m a guy, but I do see the treatment of women in videogames(and the internet) as a part of a bigger problem. Don’t get me wrong: It’s sexist and wrong as all hell. There is no denying that, but I also see it tied in with other major social problems that we are facing in cyberspace(for a lack of a better term):
    -intolerance of religion and atheism

    Sexism and the others that I listed have always been a part of society. For all I know, they might always be a part of society. The thing is that in meat space we developed an understanding that the world does not revolve around us. I might think a certain way, but that doesn’t mean that everyone else does. That tolerance that we developed is a key part of the social contract that we all get into that keeps us from stabbing our idiot co-workers or dumb ass neighbors. And so, it’s not social acceptable to say “Fucking Bitch! Get back in the kitchen and make some babies!” out loud.

    The problem is that people’s understanding of the internet has broken that. To someone who would say a death/rape threat at someone on the internet, the internet is no different that their inner monologue. Anything goes, no filters. They would never have the balls to say that to someone’s face in the meat space, but the internet is completely anonymous so who gives a fuck?

    To me, and hopefully all rational people out there, the internet does not work that way. To me the Internet is like a pub: a casual but public place were I get to talk to strangers, hang out, and be entertained. On occasion I might hear something that makes me want to say “Fuck you!”, but I control myself like any normal adult would.

    At most pubs, bars, or other places of social gatherings the sexist/homophobic/intolerant asshole who has had one too many to drink is usually shunt and kicked out by the rest of the people that are just there to have a good time. Hopefully the internet will adopt the same policy soon.

    • First of all, thanks so much for your in depth and thoughtful comment. I agree we should be holding people socially responsible for what they say on the internet. How I do have a few things I disagree with:

      Sexism has always been a part of society. This is true, however this should not excuse it in any way. There was a time when black people were considered property, children as young as five worked in dangerous environments, and men had the legal right to beat their wives. Today all of these ideas are outdated and are totally inappropriate in the U.S. These changes occurred because enough people railed against it. Example: In 1913 a woman by the name of Emily Davison stepped in front of the King’s horse and was trampled to death in order to draw attention to the vote for women.

      I’ve said this before, but the internet is like our collective Id. No restraints, no filters. And in that way it actually makes for a great gauge of how are society is doing. On the outside- in what you call meat space -we like to believe we live in a society where these issues are no longer a problem. And yet, the proof is right in front of us, on our televisions, ads, and computer screens . We still have a long way to go if this is the reaction women are getting for daring to criticize.

      But the issue is not just what goes on on the internet- this kind of behavior doesn’t exist in a vacuum, it’s created by a society that supports and reinforces it. So when film makers, game designers, toy makers etc. don’t make the effort to step outside that sexist/homophobic/racist stereotyping, it only feeds that particular demon within us. Although it’s uncomfortable, we all have to take a stand against sexism/homophobia/racism or nothing will ever change.

      Thanks again 🙂

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