Monday, August 25, 2014

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The Newest Episode of Tropes vs Women in Video Games is Hard to Watch, but it's Well Worth Your Time

Tropes vs Women Background Decoration Part 2
Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

The latest episode of Feminist Frequency's ongoing Tropes vs Women in Video Games series is out today, presenting part two of the women as background decoration trope. This episode also comes with a pretty strong content warning, as it depicts a lot of very graphic violence against female characters. It's absolutely brutal and some viewers may want to skip this particular episode as a result, but it offers some very important critical commentary on the ways that violence against women is used in games.

Watch the full episode for yourself:

 

Remember that it's crucial to be critical of the media that you love; the only thing that passive consumption encourages is stagnation. Whether or not you agree with every point that Anita Sarkeesian presents in these videos, ultimately this kind of criticism is what pushes a medium to grow and improve. 

You can catch up on the Tropes vs Women in Video Games series on YouTube.

Mixed reality iris 2013Janine Hawkins (@bleatingheart on Twitter, Iris Ophelia in Second Life) has been writing about virtual worlds and video games for nearly a decade, and has had her work featured on Paste, Kotaku, Jezebel and The Mary Sue.

Comments

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Cube Republic

Anita Sarkeesian is a professional victim, liar and thief. She also turns her comments off because her arguments are invalid and will not hold up to scrutiny.

This is not pushing anything forward and allowing anything to grow; well apart from her bank account and collection of clashy shirts.

Iris Ophelia

@Cube LOL okay.

Pussycat Catnap

The video footage pretty much speaks for iteself.

At least Cube didn't say he was going to run off and assault Sarkeesian like her usual hate-mongering critics do...

None of this should be any surprise to anyone. The gaming industry is full of misogyny and racism to the core. Its not accidental in the least. You can be this "on message" about hate by accident.
Roots to it can be found in the structure of the sources for modern gaming: table top roleplay.

Table Top Roleplay began with books full of sexist tropes and racist memes, in settings where the monsters were 'born morally inferior' and different kinds and sexes of creatures have built in inequality.
- That meme spread as its fans grew up to become the early game developers in tech.

The hate mongering of Gygax has long outlived the man who worked so hard to spread it... and now the largest entertainment industry on the planet is saddled with it and puts out stuff that reminds me more of 'Birth of a Nation' but for gender/sex than anything else.

The racism in gaming is pretty amazingly bad. But the sexism is disgustingly bad. Its like seeing old war propaganda designed to motivate a nation to go murder the people of another nation...

This is the crap we are feeding our youth, and increasingly our older population as well.

And Second Life doesn't get a free pass here by any stretch. The 'virtual home' of Gor - perhaps the most vile example of misogyny in 'genre fiction' to come out in the last half century... And that's just the tip of Second Life's "issues" with race and gender...

Go look up any venue with 'interracial' in the name to see those two come together in a perfect storm of hate speech.

Hamlet Au

"Anita Sarkeesian is a professional victim, liar and thief. She also turns her comments off because her arguments are invalid and will not hold up to scrutiny."

Comments aren't turned off here, dude. Can *you* validate any of these claims (one of them potentially libelous) with sources?

Cube Republic

Hamlet I can't, well apart from pointing you towards the numerous videos debating her points on youtube.

Here are some repeated points:

She got 150,000US$ to produce slick videos and uses others content from youtube without permission. You think 150ks worth of video production puts a purple shirt against a blue background?

She couldn't actually find any content of men killing woman in Hitman. The point of the game and how you score is down to completing missions without killing non-targets. So she produced her own just to reinforce a non existent argument.


There never was and never will be 'an orchestrated campaign against her by gamers'. She was wiped out on some mainstream news channel by a female reporter that claimed she was 'feeding the trolls'.

It's just a classic case of problem solution, cash out and I don't buy it. She also says the same thing over and over again and doesn't actually make any new points.

My opinions have been influenced a lot by thundef00t on youtube. He debunks a lot of stuff, including solar freaking roadways! I've also watched a lot of other counters and I tend to agree.

I like woman, and like seeing the female shape. Do I need to defend this? Artists have always depicted the female form throughout history.

Recently moved from a western cold climate to Brazil. The culture is totally different, and pretty much in your face. I don't buy into this whole objectification of woman argument. Art is a zeitgeist, if there are strippers in real life, then there will be strippers in a video game about the seedier side of life.

Imagine if a man started saying it's unfair how woman like muscular firemen with strong enveloping arms because it objectifies men.

Pussycat Catnap

@Hamlet: I think he's referring to Sarkeesian turning off her comments. She did that after so many of them were threats of a personal nature.

I think she posted a video or screencap of them at one point, but I'm not sure.

She turned her comments off for good reason though - the vile nature of them was distracting from her very valuable insights.

I often say gaming tech is rotten to the core. I said it above. Its not a 100% truism, but it is pervasive enough to dominate the industry. And Sarkeesian is needed so that this can change - before it destroys everything good about gaming tech.

Cube Republic

I sell cave systems in second life. Recently was teleported to a customers sim. They used voice and were woman, they were building a capture rape sim. Kinda blew my mind.

Hamlet Au

Cube, you don't post a single shred of evidence (again, please include reputed third party sources) to justify the charge of her being a thief.

Sam Peters

The simple fact that violence against men way outweighs that of women in video games makes almost all her points ridiculous. The only reason they fly in some corners of debating is the age old hypocrisy that women are to be protected, the so called innocents, hence violence to them is shocking, violence to men is just par for the course and doesn't warrant our compassion.

Cube Republic

I make no charge, it was an opinion. Can she provide any financial details of where her hundred and fifty thousand dollars have gone, so that I may change that opinion for a better one?

Pussycat Catnap

@Sam she goes into that claim of yours in detail in this video. Showing context in how violence against women is shown versus how violence against men is shown.

When against women, it gets sexualized. When against men, it is used for horror. Counter examples of both exist - but the primary trend is there.

Pussycat Catnap

@Cube:

"They used voice and were woman, they were building a capture rape sim."

People full of self hate exist. There have always been Uncle Toms.

I don't agree that all depictions of sexuality are wrong - but that is a world apart from using sexuality as a tool to demean and show disempowerement. And if you pay attention rather than just get defensive... you can see Sarkeesian is primarily concerned about the demeaning and/or disempowering depictions. She goes on about that specific point many many many times. And she will usually skip right past sexualization that is not demeaning - because it is not the problem.

Hamlet Au

Calling someone a "thief" in a blog comment thread is a very serious assertion which can and has led to a libel lawsuit in which lawyers subpoenaed the blog service to reveal the commenter's real life name and contact details (since nearly all commenters make charges like this do so while hiding behind a pseudonym). But in point of fact, the charges that Anita was "stealing" her Kickstarter pledges have been debunked by reputed sources. (One below.) Males who repeat them should ask themselves why they still do anyway.

http://www.dailydot.com/society/anita-sarkeesian-gamers-photoshop-shoe/

After massive backlash and public support for Sarkeesian, haters shifted their tune: They weren't upset that she's pointing out (obvious) sexism, they argued, but that she hadn't started her project. She's stealing money from her Kickstarter donors!

And now to prove Sarkeesian's biblical level of unholy malevolence, they're Photoshopping images of fake shoe purchases. Because nothing says "mendacious evil feminist overlord" like $1,000 Gucci shoes...

Of course, the premise of the outrage is baseless to begin with. Sarkeesian has already launched a Tumblr for the series, and says she'll probably release the first video this month. She explained to Kotaku's Stephen Totilo:

"Due to all the unexpected extra Kickstarter funding we were able to greatly expand the scope, scale and production values of the project which is exciting but also means we've had to rework our timetable."

Even if Sarkeesian did take her Kickstarter money and run, the idea that anything other than base sexism is motivating the gaming community's hatred is complete bullshit. How many other Kickstarter projects do they follow with such unwavering critical devotion? Where was the community's outrage over this actual Kickstarter scam? Or this one? Or this one?

Gamers aren't angry that Sarkeesian hasn't finished her project. They're angry she ever proposed it.

Cube Republic

If you disagree with someone you're a hater? Loads of kickstarters get support, an appeal to popularity does not validate anything.

Also neither of us speak for gamers.

Debunking videos at dawn? Oh the internet!

Maybe I should start a kickstarter on racial profiling of middle eastern enemies in video games, or how the mentally ill such as the Joker are portrayed in Batman, on hunting of animals for fur in farcry. Anything can be dismantled down to it's components and viewed through any lens you wish. Censorship is a long and winding road. Collectively most of us can separate right from wrong, good from evil. The effects she speaks of are not real. This is why there's a backlash and she's been open to ridicule.

Sam Peters

Well yes she does go into that though not with much great appreciation for the context with which they happen in any of the games she quotes, something she is notorious for. The fact that violence is treated differently with women to men in one being sexualised, doesn't really say anything to the degree and intensity of violence against the men. My simple point, which is really frustrating and you rarely hear in these kinds of articles is that wherever sexism occurs it is a double edged sword, women have been seen as sexual objects, men as security/ protector objects.

Take a look at her review of Bayonetta to see how ridiculous her reviews are, a game not only with a strong female lead, but one designed by a woman, where she not only mistakenly suggests that the lead character is a single mother (why this is particularly positive is odd), immediately demonstrating she never played the game, she just cherry picks the fact that she is scantily clad, apparently women just cannot be sexy and not be victim of the 'patriarchy'. There are a ton of male characters buff and physically idiolised, Kratos from God of War wears a fraction of the clothes, no he's not sexualised, but is he a disposable hero psychologically tortured by warfare where a life of bloodshed and self sacrifice is all part of the norm.

Bayonneta:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XbihPTgAql4

"your basic story of a shape shifting witch dressed in skin tight leather who can turn into giant cats has a small arsenal of weapons including whips"

MM ok yes what a cliche I'm sick of lead female shape shifting witches so cliche. If I made that outfit in SL, not only would it sell like hotcakes in the roleplaying community it would in the general market.

Even Xmas songs do not pass her depressing outlook:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bkNFNfWRHKc
"All I Want For Christmas Is You", Mariah Carey is the optiomy of the 'patricarhy' apparently, women are not aloud to be interested in romance, and if a guy were to sing that it would come off as 'stalker territory'.

This is what I mean, she may have some good points littered amongst a mountain of extremist bile that has nothing in common with the average man or woman's perspective these days, but she has no regard for anything that valid that's traditional. Everything gets smooshed through this weird deconstructing post-modern abstract meme that paints all of culture and history as universally pathological and so far removed from reality it makes you double take.

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