Monday, June 4, 2012

whisper to my heart when hope is torn apart

Anita Sarkeesian, the lady behind the Feminist Frequency videos, put out a new video this morning asking folks to turn their attention to a Kickstarter project. It's called "Tropes vs. Women in Video Games", and it started as a modest request for $6,000 to make an in-depth, heavily researched set of six videos analyzing the typical tropes most female video game characters fall into, and what we as women--and we as a society--can learn from them. Six grand is not at all unreasonable--that breaks down to a grand per video, which covers editing and post-processing, shooting, replacing any studio equipment she might need to continue making videos, plus purchase of games and/or research materials (including any potential licensing fees).

Within hours, it was fully funded; she's now at her first "stretch" goal, at over $22,000, which bumps her character research up to eleven fully-developed and researched character tropes. All of this is very good news: as she said in the initial video, her work is frequently used in middle-school, high school and college classes, and is occasionally referred to in theses on gender and cultural diversity. With only thirty-three videos under her belt, she's become a small driving force for feminism online.

What's interesting to me, though, is that she deliberately left comments open on the YouTube launch video. Why? Well, as she put it: " I've left the comments open on this video as a way of showing why this topic is so important. I apology in advance for the hate speech and ignorance that will inevitably be left below. Make sure to thank the trolls for proving to everyone that sexism in gaming is indeed a huge problem."

Right. So what sorts of comments has she gotten so far?

From "OfficeHopscotch":
I sure hope this isn't another oh no women are portrayed so horribly, boo hoo all about female type video series. Last I checked, men weren't all hulking behemoths running around smashing things in the face and being the hero of the world every day. And I sure hope you don't just out right ignore the roles of the characters, and just complain about gender. It wouldn't be very believable seeing a slightly chubby average girl painted green playing the Incredible Hulk.
From "InannasDissent" in response:
And why not? What's wrong with an "average girl" being an average character? Why must a woman be relegated to background or eye candy? This is about the underrepresentation of women in media--a vast topic, seeing as men run the media and only put in it what they want to see (and what they know makes them money). Ever see those commercials where a scantily clad woman moans, gyrates and runs her hands all over herself for a CARL'S JR. ad? This is a serious problem and people need to be made aware.
From "rogums":
Im fairly interested. I have to say male characters are often turned into muscular, emotionless beasts who live just to kill things,, which is hardly what most of us want. Don't forget that.
From "YorickReturns" in response:
It obviously is, what most people want, because violent games are very popular! In the age of global communications and social media, it's easier now more than ever for consumers to get together and to represent themselves effectively. If large numbers of consumers really wanted games with less violence and more well-developed characters, that is, what the market would produce. Maybe, that is, what the market will produce in the future.
And from "rogums" back in reply again:
That's nonsense.I trust that the games industry will gradually change, but radical protest for games seems like a waste, when there are plenty of much greater issues for equality. I approved of your comment before, about cut scenes and the like, and I agree that it is a case of satisfying demand, but like you said they assume women are happy because they dont complain, and the same goes for men, how do you know that a lot of men are discontent with the portrayal but dont speak against it.
And yes, I'm leaving in grammatical errors; these are straight copy-paste entries from the comments.

From "TreacleMary":
Nerds always get portrayed as greasy, socially inept neck-beards who relentlessly fap over their Dead Or Alive Bikini edition posters because they can't get a real girlfriend. If you had any self respect then you'd be fighting against this too. Unless you really do like fapping over DOA posters...
From "rams321" in response:
"either you are with us or you are against us"


nice one feminazi, any other bullshit comment you ant to add?
And from TreacleMary in response back to ram's comment:
I'm sorry to have to spell it out buddy, but the point that I was making was that negative female stereotypes affect male and female gamers equally. It sounds like you're really angry at the idea of women wanting to be included in our gaming culture, but why? I embrace it!


How would you like it if the community surrounding one of your favourite hobbies was constantly exclude you?
That's a great point.

From Yorick again in response to TreacleMary:
What do you mean by 'affect' and 'negative'? There is no evidence, that the characterization of female characters has harmed men and women. I don't think, beauty should be seen as negative. I can understand, how helplessness might be negative, but I can't remember the last game I played, where female characters were singled out to be especially helpless. That seems to be a preserve of the Mario games! Games don't exclude women, just because you don't like some of the characters!
And TreacleMary's reply:
The discussion of "how women are represented in videogames" is not so much whether female characters have favourable attributes in-game, but what they say about women in general. Hopefully you can see that it's not about any specific characters, but how there are few voices exclaiming that women can be strong and adventuring without having to answer to or appeal to boys.


Seriously ask yourself how many women will feel a part of gaming culture when they're seen mostly as T&A or set-dressing.
From "Mountaingoatful":
Seriously how the fuck do you need that much money to make videos?
From "NethDugan" in response to rams:
Can you please not link the feminists you don't agree with and whose beliefs may be different than you own, even if you see them as a bit odd or over the top, to Nazis?
From "TheCroco99:
The big problem is, how is the gaming industry going to change? It's currently full of men gleefully adding misogyny and stereotypes to their games, having their focus on a certain type of immature male gamer. They WANT things to be like this. They ignore the rest of the market on purpose. Otherwise, games would look very different today.
From "tehw0lfman":
This is something so important happening in something that I truly love. I'm tired of seeing boobs and butt poses and all of that bullshit. I am also tired of hearing "it's not sexist because our character has personality and depth! She is a powerful female character!" but I still get an oversexualized female character with overly bouncy boobs who wears ridiculous outfits. This project will be great!
From rams again to TreacleMary:
i sound like im angry at the idea of women... what?


if thats how you feel then im sorry for you, but in no way the gaming culture exclude women.


thats the idea that the feminazis are trying to paint.
And TreacleMary's response:
Very cunning, call opposing arguments 'bullshit' without substantiating your own, throw around pejorative terms about feminists and then back away and say you're not angry!


Pay a visit to fatuglyorslutty [] dot[ ]com and then tell me again how women are "in no way" excluded from gaming culture. I'll give you a little aptitude test, if you can't tell me how the dickheads posting on that site contribute to sexism in gaming culture, then you don't need to bother with a reply.
Just for reference: I've mentioned that site before--coincidentally (or maybe not so coincidentally) in reference to another sexism-in-games post. And even reading through the front page, before ever hitting the archives, you'll see exactly what TreacleMary means.

And from Treacle again:
The discussion of "how women are represented in videogames" is not so much whether female characters have favourable attributes in-game, but what they say about women in general. Hopefully you can see that it's not about any specific characters, but how there are few voices exclaiming that women can be strong and adventuring without having to answer to or appeal to boys.


Seriously ask yourself how many women will feel a part of gaming culture when they're seen mostly as T&A or set-dressing.
From Yorick in response:
Every female character, that immediately comes to mind, is strong and adventurous. The only exception I can think of is Princess Peach. If you mean characters, who are physically strong and/or good with weapons, I think, women are overrepresented. As for being appealing to men, any woman is theoretically appealing. I concede, for example, that an obese character is not going to be appealing to very many men, but how realistic is it that an obese character could jump around and chase enemies etc.
"StellaEllaMaya" in response to Yorick:
You're missing the point. Giving a woman muscles or a gun doesn't exclude her from being a sexist trope when video game designers often spend ten times as many hours perfecting the curve of her ass than developing her character. The video game industry also woefully lacks any praise for non-sexual attributes usually associated with femininity such as compassion, co-operative problem-solving, pacifism, etc.
TreacleMary in response to rams (again):
I'm guessing it doesn't matter to you because you're not a nigger fagget bitch (i.e. it's a meaningless insult), but sexist comments bother women because they ARE women, there's nothing they can do to help it, and whenever they speak up to say they don't like it, they get shot down.


You also conveniently ignored that this is a prime example of female exclusion from gaming. Didn't you say that women are in no way excluded from gaming? How confident are you about the rest of what you have to say?
rams' reply to Treacle:
i gamed with ppl from other contries and got shot down for my nationality and skin color a lot. i didnt make a whole website about it nor did my day got ruined because of it.


stick and stones bro.
Also, I'm not saying I agree with some of the back-and-forths--I'm just quoting them because I think many of them are relevant to the problem.

Treacle responding to Yorick:
Read my previous comment, break it down, structure your response in counterpoint to mine. Key points: Forget about the features of specific characters, what do they say about the role women have generally?


Why is overt, base sexual appeal (not nuanced, potential sexual appeal) seemingly mandatory for female characters?
Yorick responding:
You can't have a discussion about alleged messages, that games may be conveying about women, unless you refer to specific examples of characters! I deny, that 'overt, base sexual appeal' is mandatory. Unless a female character is designed to look like a child, or is designed to look very ugly, sexuality will always have a presence. And to rebut your implication: I don't think, very many people buy games for sexual reasons!
From "Zengias":
}Calling yourself a "gamer"


I wish I could make a ton of money by repeating wikipedia articles on a topic already well discussed and debated. You are already approaching the video game medium with a feminist perspective, I'm sure this overview of a medium with thousands of titles will be fair. Yes sexism in works exists in every MEDIUM so why hound after video games? Why is it treated so differently then literature or film? Doesn't this form of expression deserve the same freedom?
"videogamemaker" in response:
First why are you putting quotes around "gamer"? Is it because she's a girl? Are you a skeptic of every guy who calls himself a gamer?


The main thing I personally like, as a feminist already, about her videos is how easy they are to approach. A lot of feminist discussion is locked up in academia and longer essays/papers who will only be ready by those already well versed. She won't be making "a lot of money" she will be doing a project that needs funding.
From stardude3396":
But...But... Lara Croft is hot.
From GrawIy:
I find it amazing that people disregard the opinions and arguments of feminists on the grounds of "ALL FEMINISTS WANT TO DO IS GET ATTENTION" or something similar, yet pay no attention to what is actually touched upon in these videos.
Back to the conversation between rams and Treacle, the next reply from rams:
ppl get called nigger fagget bitch and every other insult on the book and get harrased as well. (myself included i recieved death threats hack threats and immigrant insults)
should i make a whole website about it?
There's more, but you get the idea. And people were, by and large, being pretty polite in this thread. I think this is a project that needs doing, and thankfully, it's going to be done, but just in case you feel like donating, the link's near the beginning of this entry.

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