Women: Despite having brought the curse of death upon us (thanks, Eve), pushed our screaming forms into an unforgiving world, and delivered innumerable time-outs, we love them - moreover, some of us even respect them. Unfortunately, when it comes to video games, women too often find themselves as damsels in distress, support characters, or everyone's favorite, "t*ts with a backstory." As it happens, many women take issue with this. Anita Sarkeesian, writer, video blogger, and feminist, would like to see this change.
Having regularly released videos at her site, Feminist Frequency, Sarkeesian, "a gamer, a pop culture critic and a fan," seeks to turn her attention to the world of video games. The goal of the Kickstarter project is to raise money to produce a series of videos, 10-20 minutes in length, to "explore, analyze and deconstruct some of the most common tropes and stereotypes of female characters in games." The money raised "will go towards production costs, equipment, games and downloadable content."
Unfortunately, such an endeavor is not without its detractors: in this case, said detractors have voiced their opposition in a most vulgar manner.
From Feminist Frequency:
As some of you may know a harassment campaign is being waged against me because of my Tropes vs Women in Video Games project on Kickstarter. This coordinated attack was launched by various online video game forums and has included attempts to get my accounts banned, a torrent of hate on YouTube, plus countless threats of violence, death, sexual assault and rape. As part of that intimidation effort the Wikipedia page about me was vandalized with misogynist language, pornography and racial slurs.
Those who treasure the joy of high blood pressure can find a screencap of the (very NSFW) defacement here.
Yours truly gives shares some (non-video game related) thoughts after the jump!
While such behavior has become almost commonplace - the internet, in its otherwise beautiful anarchy, has the unfortunate distinction of serving as a meeting ground for despicable individuals - harassment such as this speaks to a larger, and far more troubling trend. As progressive as the popular consciousness may tell us we have become - "official" strides in gender equality have indeed been made in modern times, if principally on paper - the specter of misogyny still haunts the social landscape. Any dominant group - be it racial, religious, or in this case, a particular gender - imbued with a sense of self-entitlement, will find within it a segment of reactionaries that fight for their own (perceived) narrow interests. Then, there is the popular denial that women's "issues" are anything but: Women have the right to vote, have the right to equal employment, and have the right to live as independent lives if they so choose, unmolested by the norms of our narrow-minded forbearers. The ways of old - that unenlightened, shameful epoch - has been kicked into the septic tank of history, and we have moved on - end of story.
Sadly, for anyone who has been fortunate to know one or more women, such notions are largely false. Whether kept alive in the form of "old fashioned" traditionalism, or sexist remarks shared in the company of "us guys," misogyny still exists within the collective mind. Sadly, this is something that, aside from scant mentions here and there, society has largely brushed under the rug. Behind the sheen of normalcy, and exacerbated by the mainstream "compulsion" to recognize gender equality, antiquated notions of gender roles - the idea that women should be subservient, or at least secondary to their male counterparts - have yet to be vanquished once and for all. When it comes to these issues, individuality is tolerated on the condition that it not deviate too far from what it "means" to be a woman - or for that matter, what it means to be a man. To realize true individuality, one must first be freed of the expectations, irrelevant as they are, that the arbiters of gender impose - and this is especially poignant in the case of women.
Sadly, progress does not come easily. Real, substantive change is granted not by the stroke of a pen; it finds itself erected incrementally - bit by miniscule bit - and even when it seems as though society has begun to turn the corner, one is reminded of the discouraging truth that misogyny, rather than being an echo of the past, lives on.
The function of bigotry, and its fundamental cowardice, lies in its methods. Everybody loves a good scapegoat: whether homosexuals, transgendered people, religious minorities, atheists, or foreigners, the small-minded will find their personal kicking post - whether as a matter of pride, or to assert some paltry measure of power - all the while espousing angst at "political correctness gone mad," and that dreaded "culture of victimhood."
The twist, of course, is that no one plays the victim with greater fervor than the bigots. Driven by a vulgar sense of entitlement, the poor, persecuted majority waxes poetic about their plight: a culture coming unwound, the brazen tearing asunder of fundamental values, their particular breed of Americana becoming a bygone era - one remembered with due fondness, and pining for its picturesque purity - after that foul liberalism bled the greatness of our fair nation, dooming us to the permissiveness that that we are told will be our undoing. It's cynical, sinister, and almost amusingly, purveyed largely by those to whom said power will never belong. However, it is emotionally gratifying - and most importantly, it's easy.
For me, the issue of misogyny treads especially close to the personal. My family consists almost entirely of women (every visit home is met with the overpowering waft of estrogen), as does my group of close friends, including my best friend and confidant. Being a stalwart bearer of the Y chromosome, I would never be so arrogant as to say that I "understand" the challenges faced by our female peers - nor can any man. Still, we can stand in solidarity: not as some kind of token gesture, but simply as a matter of good sense.
Thankfully, for those of us on the side of sanity, acts of bigotry tend to backfire. In the case of Anita Sarkeesian, said backfiring has found her with $52,874 worth of donations to her Kickstarter - almost nine times her goal of $6,000 - with four days until she receives funding. How much of that has come in the wake of this ugly series of events is unknown, but hate has a way of galvanizing resistance. For those of you that wish to contribute to her project you can do so at this link.