As well as being a woman, bilingual, bisexual, anime fan, cosplayer, avid book reader, sci-fi/fantasy fan, lover of films and comics, I am also a gamer. Out of all these identities (and others, as we all have many identities) I do not identify myself as a feminist (although some people might think or classify me as one). I simply believe in equality, trying to the best of my ability to stop injustices, and that if you have nothing nice to say don't say anything at all! Critiquing is fine, but just being nasty for the sake of being nasty doesn't make sense to me. (The last one's not a popular belief online). And due to the fact that I am a gamer and I do believe in equality and the right to critic I've become quite interested in the larger online debate surrounding Anita Sarkeesian and her videos Troupe vs Women in video games.
Many people in the gaming and general online community will have heard about her so I won't repeat what everyone knows. (If you don't know what this is all about just click here)
Last week I came across the video "Do Video Games Need Anita Sarkeesian's Feminism?"
This began a very, very, very long discussion which I feel is important for people to see (and I will post it at the bottom if I can if people do want to read it). But for now I will sum it up.
This person's (who we shall call Guy) arguments were as follows:
- Anita Sarkeesian is a liar (based on this video)
- She is not a real gamer (based on the fact that she is a liar based on that video)
- She has no experience in the subject she is talking about
- She and other femenists are forcing their views on the industry
- They (Anita and feminists) do not belong in the gaming community
- Feminists who claim to be harassed are just responding to opposing opinions
- Anita is not a true critic because she disabled her youtube comments
- There does need to be more female protagonists in games
- There are already a large number of games with women, and who are not sexualised
- Masoganistic games like GTAV shouldn't be taken seriously because they are a satire of society
- There is sexism in the gaming industry
- Sexualisation of women in games does not perpetrate rape, abuse or sexual harassment
He also posted these videos to back his opinion (make of them what you will):
His comments and arguments got me very angry. Although I agree with a few of his point that there needs to be more female protagonists, and there are games with women protagonists already (although I would argue these are very few and often not well known ones), I did not agree with most of what he was saying.
- Anita might have told a class of University students and her lecturer that she did not play games because she wanted to be respected. I myself have done the exact same thing, hiding one identity to gain more respect in the academic and professional world.
- Lying about one identity in a certain social situation does not make that identity invalid.
- She has proved again and again in her videos and on her site that she has the experience to talk about this.
- She is not forcing her ideas on anyway, she is simply criticising the image of women in many (not all but many) games as a whole.
- Who can say who has the "right" to be in a community or not? (The irony of this one is that this defence of 'them vs us' is addressed in the original video I posted Why Gamers Need Anita)
- Anita disabled her comments due to the 24/7 abuse and harassment she received (as shown in this video)
- There is not a lot of funding that goes into games with female protagonists due to the belief they won't sell as well as male driven ones (as argued by penny-arcade)
Our conversation then spilled over into a one-on-one discourse between myself and him on my friends facebook wall (which she was fine with because her Masters is based on the perceptions on gender in games so this was perfect for her research). At this point I was no longer angry, just amazed and bemused by this person's point of view. I had never come across anyone like him in person before and found his beliefs quite baffling.