Nerds and Male Privilege: Tropes, Trolls, Haters & Anita Sarkeesian

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I occasionally get accused of hating on dudes or telling them that they are scum and women are utterly perfect in every way and everything is men’s fault. This usually comes amongst the various accusations that I’m only writing articles about feminist issues or male privilege because I’m trying to get laid1 or to please my girlfriend/wife/woman I’m currently trying to sleep with2, which always makes me laugh.

I mean come on, I’m clearly doing it for the pageviews instead. Duh!

Real talk: I write articles like these because I want to help nerds improve themselves. I want to see them get better at dating and I want to see them be better people on the whole. Which is why there are some stories that just drive me out of my goddamned monkey mind.

Now call me naive, but I’d hoped after the blow-up with Cross Assault and Aris Bakhtanians’ sexual harassment of Miranda Pakozdi that we’d seen the worst that geek culture had to offer for a while; maybe nerds would get a little shaken up and think that maybe they should recognize that they were conforming to every negative stereotype that people have about geekdom being the He-Man Girl Hater’s club and step back.  Sure, there might be some ill-considered marketing, maybe trying to use rape as cheap character development or oversexualizing women for no apparent reason in game trailers, but come on, there’s a difference between being a little ignorant and straight up hateful. Maybe nerds would realize that things have gone too far and dial things back some… at least for a little while.

Hooo… man, that was a good one.

While I’m wishing, I’d like a winning Mega-Millions ticket too.

One of these days, I’m going to learn that when I think that nerds have started scraping the bottom of the barrel with stories of shitty behavior and attitudes towards women, somebody is going to toss in a shovel.

Last Time, On The Internet…

I am talking, of course, about the dedicated Internet Hate Campaign directed at Anita Sarkeesian.

To sum things up quickly – in the event that you have somehow managed to avoid the Internet for the last month or so – Anita Sarkeesian runs a blog and video series called Feminist Frequency that examines pop culture – especially geek culture – with an eye towards feminist issues. In June, she launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund the filming and development of a series of web videos called “Tropes Vs. Women”, examining the way that women have been traditionally portrayed in video games3

And then a bunch of nerds lost their shit.

Before the project was even funded, never mind published, a horde of nerds and men’s rights advocates descended upon Sarkeesian like a pack of pissed off Capuchins in order to vent their fury at the idea that somebody was going to maybe possibly say something negative  about the way women are portrayed in games.

“What? You might say Ivy’s a sexist portrayal of women? NOW WE MUST DESTROY YOU!!”

They vandalized her Wikipedia page, spewed hate into the comments of her YouTube channel and tried to get Kickstarter to shut down the fundraiser.

Again: because people were upset and afraid about what she might say about video games. This wasn’t about trying to have a reasoned, even passionate debate about her views on games, this was about telling a woman that she was not allowed to have an opinion on the matter. The mere idea that she might express an opinion about the way that women are portrayed in games is apparently so abhorrent to some people that they felt that the only appropriate way to respond was to take away her voice. If they couldn’t intimidate her into silence with threats of sexual violence and online harassment then by cracky they were going to try to sabotage any attempt to make this happen.

“Women across the internet are attacked for speaking out on a variety of topics but there seems to be a particular entitlement-based rage directed at any woman who dares to say anything critical about video games” – Anita Sarkeesian, speaking to GamesIndustry

Needless to say, it didn’t work. Not only did Sarkeesian make her initial goal of $6000, the story of the abuse and harassment being heaped on her spurred such an outpouring of support and good will that the project was overfunded… to the tune of nearly $160,000. An overwhelming success by anyone’s definition and a story that shows there are more good people out there than haters and a repudiation of the misogyny and hatred that is entirely to prevelent on the Internet, right? Nice try haters, didn’t work, might as well go back to whatever festering hole you crawled out of, right?

As it turns out… not so much. Instead of trying to shut the project down, the attention has turned into a campaign of hate against Sarkeesian herself.

Trolls Vs. Haters

Before we get too deep into this, we should probably define some terms. Because while a great deal of the harassment directed against Anita Sarkeesian is about her being a woman and vocal critic of misogyny in entertainment, there are plenty of people who have leapt into the mix who get off on shocking people and being horrible on the Internet.

On the one hand, we have the trolls. These are folks who will spew venom in any direction in hopes of provoking a reaction out of somebody. They’re mostly interested in being disruptive and derailing a conversation into a dust-up. Some of them may well have a particular agenda – derailing discussions of misogyny, for example, but plenty of others are in it because, well, why not? Attention is the currency of the Internet and there is no easier way to get attention than to say something shocking or disgusting. Many trolls show up strictly for the lolz – they couldn’t care less about Tropes vs. Women, they’re just enjoying the chance to dogpile on somebody who happened to be noticed by the Internet Hate Machine.

“Get back in the kitchen and make me a sandwiiiiiiich!”

Haters, on the other hand, make it personal.  These are the folks who are directing their energy and filth at someone in particular and will usually spend a great deal of energy doing it… and just as much trying to deny that they did it in the first place when they get called on it. Haters will make a point of attacking an individual and, in this case, attempt to shut her up, while trolls tend to throw their shit at anything that looks convenient. While a great deal of the harassment that Sarkeesian has been facing has been rife with implied violence and misogyny, a lot of it is, frankly, low-investment. Image macro harassment doesn’t require much effort on the part of the harasser once the base has been made, which makes it easier for anyone who might want to waggle his dick in the same direction everybody else is.

A hater, on the other hand, will go the extra mile. He might try to hack her email in order to better harass his target. He might flood her inbox with pornography or deface her Facebook page with crudely drawn images of her being raped.

Or he might create a flash game and invite people to “beat the bitch”.

Portrait of A Hater

After the Tropes Vs. Women Kickstarter had been successfully funded, the tone of the harassment took an ugly turn. A game turned up on NewGrounds, created by someone known by the Twitter handle @Bendilin (real name: Ben Spurr), that encouraged visitors to “beat up this bitch”. Why?

Well, in Ben Spurr’s words:

Anita Sarkeesian has not only scammed thousands of people out of over $160,000, but also uses the excuse that she is a woman to get away with whatever she damn well pleases. Any form of constructive criticism, even from fellow women, is either ignored or labelled to be sexist against her.

She claims to want gender equality in video games, but in reality, she just wants to use the fact that she was born with a vagina to get free money and sympathy from everyone who crosses her path.

Yup, that sounds like a totally rational and completely understandable reason to threaten a woman with violence.
Via The New Statesman

Now before we get into Ben “@bendilin” Spurr  and why he thought that this was somehow a good idea, let’s parse this statement a little.

“Anita Sarkeesian has not only scammed thousands of people out of over $160,000…”

This has been a common theme in the hate sites and criticism of Sarkeesian following the completion of the Kickstarter fund. The criticism seems to be based around the fact that her project ended up receiving a significant overfund. A number of haters have accused her of being greedy and asking for far more than she needs for “just a YouTube series”, having determined the “proper” budget for such a project via… magic, one assumes.

Strangely, I don’t recall this level of criticism being leveled when Tim Schafer’s endeavor exceeded it’s funding goals by three million dollars. But hey, Tim Schafer and DoubleFine are beloved members of the gaming industry so it’s understandable that people might want to throw money at them. The only possible reason that someone might want to give Sarkeesian money is because she bewitched them with her feminine wiles! Clearly the only reasons someone might want to donate would be either because a) sympathy or b) they want to fuck her. As opposed to, say, trolls just like Mr. Spurr ended up bringing increased attention to the project and – shock! horror - those people might just want to see the finished product.

“…but also uses the excuse that she is a woman to get away with whatever she damn well pleases.”

This is something one sees a lot amongst Men’s Rights Advocates, but rarely with anything to back it up. In this case, it’s unclear exactly what Sarkeesian has done that she is “getting away with” other than having a greater-than-expected fundraising windfall.

“Any form of constructive criticism, even from fellow women, is either ignored or labelled to be sexist against her.”

Another common complaint, although once again, it seems to be stemmed from the fact that she either ignores the haters (more on this in a second) or the fact that most of the criticism levied against her falls squarely in the 3 Ds of  arguing. While there could in theory be a reasonable debate held over Tropes Vs. Women, a) it hasn’t been released yet, which makes any debate speculative at best and decidedly premature and b) most of the “constructive criticism” involves men calling her a “fucking bitch cunt whore.”

“She claims to want gender equality in video games, but in reality, she just wants to use the fact that she was born with a vagina to get free money and sympathy from everyone who crosses her path.”

Now after the Beat Up Anita Sarkeesian game showed up (and was later taken down) on NewGrounds, blogger and activist  Steph “AmIRightFolks” Guthrie tracked down Ben Spurr via his twitter handle @bendilin and engaged him in conversation (and an Internet name-and-shame campaign).

To give you some context to the conversation, allow me to quote to you from Ben Spurr’s Steam profile:

Can’t a ~*GaMeR GuY*~ game in peace without some obnoxious durrgurrl begging to flirt with him every time he tries to go online?

I think it’s just adorable how absolutely no girls are any good at video games, just like how no woman has ever written a good novel. They are nothing but talk and no action, probably because girls are such emotional creatures and base everything they do on their current feelings and then try to rationalize their actions later. How pathetic.

You know what’s priceless? When a gamer girl posts a pic of herself looking as slutty as possible and then throws a fake fit when people talk to her like she’s a whore. What did you think was going to happen, you dumb broad? Lose thirty pounds.

Yup, no woman ever wrote a novel that redefined Western literature and created an entirely new genre. Nope.

So first question: how does Ben feel about actual violence against women?

So why did Ben create this game?

Because nothing says “valid criticism of somebody’s work” likepunching them in the face. Couldn’t you have, I dunno, tried talking like a normal human being?

Oh. How dare she ignore him? BEN SPURR WILL NOT BE IGNORED, ANITA!

But wait! Let’s be clear here: Ben Spurr created a game threatening her with violence and inviting others to – his words – beat up the bitch – wanted to get a response?

Hang on… threatening someone with violence so a woman will finally pay attention to you. Why does that sound familiar?

Oh. That’s why.

Now, I’m not terribly crazy over Steph Guthrie leading an Internet mob, replete with virtual torches and pitchforks, after Ben. Calling someone out by name and making sure folks know exactly what he did and why is one thing, sic’ing the Internet after ‘em for retribution is another entirely… and entirely too close to the initial “shut the bitch up!” campaign that Anita Sarkeesian underwent for my tastes. Internet mob justice tends to take on a life of its own and rarely sticks to just one target… or even the correct target in the first place.

That being said, it’s hard to fault her for calling Ben out and making sure that he’s known as the author of one of the most disgusting examples of misogynistic harassment I’ve seen in quite some time. Ben Spurr is a prototypical example of the haters – someone who wants a right to vent his vitriol all over the place without facing up to the consequences of his actions. The bulk of his Twitter feed (which is, at the time of this writing, suspended) is alternately attempts to defend what he did as not misogynistic and using false equivalence to justify what he did as “criticism” rather than intimidation and threats. Because, y’know, he’s totes not sexist ya’ll.

Except for that whole “lose weight bitches, ya’ll are worthless sluts” thing.

Of course, this being the Internet, Steph Guthrie is also facing blowback for “outing” Ben Spurr as the author of Beat Up Anita Sarkeesian game. The Internet Hate Machine stirred itself into life and started harassing her for daring to “talk shit” about men.

http://twitter.com/Super_Cool_Guy/status/222379828307959808

http://twitter.com/Super_Cool_Guy/status/222380047833628672

(More can be found here)

Rather understandably, these were reported to the police. And just as predictably, the haters and trolls promptly started insisting that Guthrie was over-reacting and what was “obviously” copy-pasta from some obscure meme couldn’t possibly be taken seriously as a threat. Wash, rinse, repeat. This has happened before and it will happen again.

 What’s The Point of All This?

There’s a good question as to just why there’s this active core of hatred and fear of women in geek culture and why they seem so determined to silence anyone – women especially – who dares question male privilege.

Now let’s be clear: I’m not an expert by any stretch of the imagination, so take this as just my opinion borne out of what I’ve seen in over 20+ years of being on the Internet.

The misogyny we’re seeing in nerd culture is more about what happens when entitlement and resentment melt together and form a bitter little pill.

I’ve mentioned before that nerds frequently see themselves as “special”; we are the outcasts and misfits whom society looks down upon but are unaware that secretly we are in fact superior beings in disguise. And in video games – since that’s what started this whole mess -that’s exactly what we are. Nerds can be the unstoppable powerhouses and mighty heroes that men envy and women desire. Women as consumable objects, designed specifically for their tastes? Perfect! Fits right in with the fantasy world they long for.

Increased female particpation in geek culture makes them feel that their special little world where they are kings is being threatened. The fantasy is being rudely interrupted by reality. They worry that, once again, they’re going to be left at the supposed whims and mercies of women. And they resent it.

Mix in a whole lot of frustrated desire and sublimated anger over never getting the girl they think they deserve and you get folks like Ben Spurr and the other asshats who rampaged all over Anita Sarkeesian’s Kickstarter.

Nerds and geeks, for all that we like to pretend that we are a separate and superior culture unto ourselves, want the same things everybody else wants; community, intimacy, love, sex… However, thanks to a combination of social awkwardness, inexperience and an unfortunate trend in anti-intellectualism, we frequently find ourselves cut off from a lot of it. We form our own community because, well, we all understand each other.

You know. Kind of like this.

But it’s small, insular and reinforces a certain level of reclusiveness; when you spend most of your time communing with people who speak the same language and understand all of your references, you tend to be most comfortable with them and are less likely to branch out.

The problem, of course, is that these insular communities tend to be boys clubs. A lot of nerd culture has catered to men exclusively almost since its inception; science fiction – for example – was born out of the hard sciences; most of the early SF writers were scientists and engineers in their own right, and these were industries that actively discouraged female participation. While there were exceptions – women were involved in Star Trek fandom from the beginning – it’s really only been recently that women have made inroads into geek culture.

Now, nerd guys are still guys; they want sex. They want love. They want relationships. But that social awkwardness isn’t improved by the fact that nerd communities are still predominantly white and male. Turning geek culture into one giant heteronormative sausage-fest doesn’t really allow for one to get used to dealing with women. Nerd guys want those relationships, but they don’t really know how to get them and they’re afraid of being rejected and humiliated. They tend to feel as though they have to beg for a relationship because they don’t have the confidence that says they deserve one. As a result: you end up with the idea that women are the ones who get to choose. This means that women have the power.

As a result, they tend to see women as intimidating.

That intimidation makes them angry.

They’re it because they feel as though they’re *owed* a relationship and somebody isn’t playing by the rules. And now even their fantasy worlds – because everything in life is a zero-sum game to them – are being taken over and THAT’S being taken from them as well.

So what happens when you have a combination of desire frustrated by intimidation and a sense of being kept from something that they are entitled to? In some cases, you end up with people getting bitter and resentful towards the very thing they want. And they lash out.

Might as well make this the front page of the Internet.

 

So Now What?

Here’s the important thing: As horrific the harassment campaign against Anita Sarkeesian has been – as similar campaigns against other industry icons and luminaries such as Felicia Day, Aisha Tyler and Jennifer Hepler - it hasn’t worked. Tropes vs. Women has been funded and all of the impotent nerdrage can’t change that. Sarkeesian hasn’t backed down or shut up in the face of harassment. Neither, for that matter, have Steph Guthrie or any of the others. As disturbing as it may be, the haters’ goals have been to shut people up. 

The harassment and arguing that occurs whenever the topic of sexism or privilege comes up is an attempt to make people stop talking about it; if we quit bringing up the misogyny in gaming then maybe people will quit challenging the trolls’ and haters’ ability to wallow in it. Standing strong – not letting the bastards win by letting them silence the voices –  and calling them to task for their fucked up attitudes and actions means that they lose.

The fucked up part is that this isn’t a zero-sum game. Nobody is trying to take men’s toys away – unless you are so vested in the ability to revel in the worst impulses of bullshit images of masculinity that you can’t stand life without it. All that’s being asked is that we acknowledge that things in geek culture have been a little fucked up and to try and make things less fucked up in the future so that everybody can enjoy it.

 

  1. If that actually worked, I would be out of a job []
  2. really, she’d rather I just clean the litter box more often []
  3. Spoiler alert: NOT WELL. []

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Comments

  1. Patrick says:

    I hope those guys are virgins until the day they die even if they live to be 120.

    The Doc's explanation makes some sense, but I still have a hard time wrapping my head around such a homicidal level of bitterness and hatred among such a large number of people. I'm a nerd, and most of my friends as a teenager were nerds (though not necessarily the video-game kind), and some of us definitely had some highly questionable notions about women, but I don't remember our victim attitudes ever turning into violent fantasies.

    I'd love to have video game geeks talk about where this garbage is coming from, but I don't trust Ben Spurr types to be honest and introspective enough to have anything valuable to say on this. Maybe any reformed woman-hating geeks reading this could school us?

    • Honestly, these dudes deserve our pity, not our hate.

    • anonymous says:

      because a vrigin is the worst thing they could possibly be right? why is it ok to insult people by calling them virgins?

      • i think what he means is that he hopes no woman has to come in contact with them,

      • Patrick says:

        In this context, "virgin" is used as a curse, not an insult (in other words, if I had wished cancer on them instead, that would not mean I think cancer victims are idiots and worthy of scorn). If virginity is what you WANT, there is nothing wrong with that at all. And if you're a virgin but not by choice, you have my wholehearted empathy, believe me. It took me a while too.

        • Anthony says:

          The problem is that using virgin as a curse is using it as an insult. You are implying that being virgin is negative. And, for most people, living to 120 and not ever have sex would be a negative. But the fact that it is used as a 'curse' or an insult is what gives it such a…stressful connotation. People become so obsessed with not being virgins that it sabotages there interactions. If there wasn't so much negative connotation surrounding it then there would not be so much pressure and stress surrounding losing it. I think that is just a happier situation for everyone. There are a lot of different insults and curses to use; resorting to this one is not necessary.

    • I think something that you notice when you see a bunch of hate spewed from the geek cultures is that it stems a lot from people trying to protect their passion. Unfortunately, when they see anything that can be perceived as detrimental some people will lash out in a disgusting fashion.

    • I can try offering an explanation. I used to be an MRA before "MRA" was even in use. I hated feminism (or rather, what I perceived feminism to be) and I very much disliked when feminists turned their attention to video games and the depiction of women in them.

      DNL is pretty much spot-on. The level of vitriol seems completely crazy… until you remember that nerds are not exempt from the social conditioning that everyone else got. So you end up with a group of people who think they're smarter than everyone else and refuse to acknowledge being wrong about a topic. All the latent sexism comes pouring out and snowballs into something frightening. The mob mentality spreads on the internet, fueled by instigators who are either willfully dishonest or just plain ignorant about the facts. At one point, I was caught up in the internet hate machine, and I myself left nasty messages on a feminist's wall who dared to speak out on sexism in geek culture (fortunately, I didn't threaten rape or violence against her… just called her a dumb feminazi who needs to get a life).

      Since then, I've learned about what feminism *actually* means, and I actively speak up in geek circles to point out instances of sexism, and things we can do to recognize it. Hey, if people only want to listen when white men speak, fine… I'll use my white man-ness for the greater good.

  2. … I have not been away from the internet for a month… that being said… I still missed all this going down…

    >.>… What the fuck, guys?

    Absolutely ridiculous… Behavior is inexcusable. I really hope that the mass that poured energy into the hate isn't the majority it seems, and just seems that way, because of the massive amount of numbers that can be pulled in on the internet. If the majority of "nerds" feel this way… well, congrats guys, we've become what everyone said we were…

    … just… Seriously? Someone wants to talk about the goings on of a demographic that doesn't get a lot of serious publicity and… you get super defensive to the point of being offensive… and… you don't see how you're totally lending credence to the need for such a dissertation by… freaking out about the fact people outside the community might learn about what's going on!!!!! Y'know who else did/do that… Scientology. People's Temple (Jonestown). Polygamist Compounds. Heaven's Gate… y'know… cults.

    Is that what we are now?

    Bout to just say… "I quit." and fully embrace misanthropy.

  3. The sad think is, if geek culture would embrace women who want to be a part of it, there'd be a better chance for geek guys to find a partner (at least for those guys who are attracted to gals). But no, let's instead make geek culture incredibly unwelcoming and misogynist, and then complain bitterly when women have the temerity to note that it is, in fact, unwelcoming and misogynist. Clearly, it's their problem, amirite?

    • That's the craziest thing about this whole issue: nerd guys should want more games with better representations of women, because that means that more women will play video games. It can only be a good thing. Games will probably become better written overall, and there will be more ladies to whom we can talk to about video games.

      • So much respect for you fellas, and you couldn't have stated it better. While certain gaming circles *seem* more prone to being misogynistic and unwelcoming (the fighting games crowd; co-operative FPS games; the world of MMORPGs), the gaming community as a whole certainly doesn't feel as exclusive and female-shunning as it used to be. Still, after being stalked and verbally attacked in World of Warcraft by a persistent troll who decided I was a "stupid whore" simply for ignoring his unwelcome advances, I can see where a great many women would be unwilling to potentially subject themselves to similar attacks. :(

    • x_Sanguine_8 says:

      But as Dr. Nerdlove has pointed out, many geek guys don't actually want a real woman – they're quite happy with the portrayals of women they have and can continue to idolise those "ideals". More realistic portrayals puts cracks in the Goddess' plaster, dontchano.

    • It all comes down to one thing. Lack of confidence. Those men who aren't comfortable with themselves just can't be comfortable with anyone else – and that seems even more true if the "anybody else" has a vagina.

      It's sad and counterproductive. The only way to make thing "better" for yourself is to accept yourself, your needs, your wants, and then be inviting to those who can provide those.

  4. UnderOrange says:

    This was well timed. My forum-home has been increasingly overrun with misogynistic BS and I'm starting to get disheartened.

    It's so hard to talk about this kind of stuff without people defaulting to the 'us vs. them' mentality that seems nearly impossible to get through. Then, if some of the more hateful posters disappear, it's like they get replaced by three more new ones and the conversation has to start from the very beginning all over again. THEN the original hateful posters pop back up because apparently this is like comics and nobody is ever -really- gone forever.

    I want to keep staying serious about this, keep discussing it and stay reasonable enough for people to maybe actually listen… but it is really -extraordinarily- difficult not to just sit back and yell at them, which is not actually productive or useful in any way.

  5. QDefenestration says:

    Traci Green, noted youtuber pro-sex activist, who has devoted a great deal of time and effort to helping thousands of individuals in all areas of the sexuality spectrum, was yesterday scared off of the internet. Death threats with pictures of her home attached were sent to her, and so she decided that it wasn't worth the danger anymore.

    • VintageLydia says:

      *Laci Green

      She has before made some pretty transphobic, Islamophobic, and a few other comments in the past. She absolutely deserved criticism. She absolutely did NOT deserve death threats and stalking, including pictures of her apartment building taken by one of her harassers. It makes me hesitant to speak openly about controversial topics, that’s for sure. I have a family to worry about.

      But I guess that’s the goal: To shut up us wimminz so we can hurry up and make those sammiches.

      • QDefenestration says:

        Yeah wow, Silly typo there.

      • While she did make those comments, she has always apologized for them. John Green and Hank Green both spoke out about this.

        It's best to read the blog post which you can see here from John: http://fishingboatproceeds.tumblr.com/post/269087

        Here is an audio clip from Hank, John's brother, talking about the subject: http://edwardspoonhands.com/post/26948403129/just

        • The Green issue isn't quite the same as Sarkeesian. Many of the critics of Green disagree with the death threats, but are frustrated that their legitimate complaints are being lumped in with the rest and their actual discourse on feminism is being shut down by white knights. Think of it like terrorism and Arabs. Yes, there are a few Arabs that are terrorists, but we shouldn't say that every Arabic person is a terrorist because of a few assholes.

          Here are some great responses from fans of the vlogbrothers. http://pumpernickelandcoal.tumblr.com/post/269502… (which makes a great point that the Green brothers (no relation to Ms. Green) are white, straight, cis, male, and fairly well-off people and should not be deciding the discourse of feminism for women.) http://amethystarcher.tumblr.com/post/26950796032http://babyslothsandpuppysizedelephants.tumblr.cohttp://troublesquared.tumblr.com/post/26949580559

          (Oh, and side note. Saw this posted by a supposed nerdfighter in Hank's comments:

          "This may just be me being an asshole, but I think most people who complain about words like those slipping are really more just complaining about it for the attention because it makes them look/feel like they're doing justice or something, not because they were actually offended. And if they were offended, maybe they should learn to not be so offended when someone accidentally says a racial slur. Then again, that may just be me."

          Someone needs to read more of the good Doctor.)

          • QDefenestration says:

            This is something I've been seeing constantly in the past 24 hours, that in order for your thoughts on any group to mean anything you must be part of that group. Therefor Ms. Green's opinion that Islam is demeaning to women (which just seems to be part of a larger opinion of hers that all organized religion is harmful) is invalid because she is not islamic. Her thoughts on weight issues are not valid because she is thin. Mr. Green's opinions are invalid because he is male. And this….seems to be pretty accepted by everyone.

            Is this really a kind of thinking that is healthy….for any kind of discourse on anything whatsoever?

            I mean, John Green's entire fictional output, it could be argued, is a very moving argument that our goal should BE breaking down these walls of things-and-people-we-are-not, that we should all work towards a kind of empathy towards those who are MOST different from us so we can truly understand them and our relationships with them.

            This also seems to be something that the Good Doctor would be a fan of.

          • I was just thinking about saying that as well QD. I couldn't help but shake my head at one of the repliers because they state this about the brothers: "They are white, straight, cis, male, and fairly well-off people and the discourse is NOT decided by them. I’m sorry, but it’s trans* people and Muslim people that need to be heading this ‘discussion’." (the post comes from here: http://pumpernickelandcoal.tumblr.com/post/269502…. )

            If you want people to understand the issue of that particular group then you cannot say that they do not need to be a part of the discussion and only people of that group deserve to discuss and head it only. The only way we can understand one another is to talk about it, no matter who you are and what you background may be.

            What I'm worried now is how the word cisgender is going to be tossed around. So if you want to block somebody out of a topic because they are cisgender person then you just need to point it out and it will just brush them aside.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Much like introspection (see comments of previous article), making an effort to understand the feelings of people who are different from oneself, understand their experience and even comment on how others' behavior effects that experience is a common and beneficial practice. In English the term is "empathy". The important point is to go through all of the steps without skipping to commentary.

    • Just recently started watching Laci's videos, and that she's taking – nay, been FORCED to take – an indefinite hiatus from making videos and posting on Tumblr is really sad. And equally as sad, it's not at all surprising. Thanks to Archive.org, Google caching, screen-capping, Twitter apps that save deleted tweets, etc it's incredibly easy to have your words used against you, even years after the fact. Laci apologized for her flippant comments in what struck me as a very sincere manner, and earned death threats from it? When did "forgiveness" become outlawed on the Internet?

  6. It's not just that some men feel entitled to sex and relationships with/from women. It's that they feel that being in charge and setting the terms of any conversation is their birthright, one they are right to defend with violence. The business about "she's overreacting" is part of that violence, in that it's a verbal campaign to persuade us that what we're perceiving isn't real. Men set the terms of reality, you see.

    The geek culture appears to have plenty of this, but so do plenty of other largely male cultures. Finance, for example. Fraternities. Pro sports. The men involved are the Internet version of the KKK, just with a (somewhat) different target. They're that wrong and that repulsive.

    • Oh damn, that is so well said it took my breath away. Thanks for the insight. This comment was a "take my vague feelings and put them into words!" kind of moment for me.

  7. What most of these haters seem to forget is that most of the 'gamer girls'(really just gamers, but sure, let's make gender important when it comes to women playing games) grew up playing the same games as most of them. They love games for the same reasons most people do, they devote time to gaming and they put lots of money and time into it. Yet that doesn't seem to be enough.

    We are part of the gaming community as well, yet there seem to be so many arbitrary things we need to adhere to. We need to be better than average, or we're not worthy of being called a gamer. We need to be interested in more than just one genre, otherwise we've barely played any of the 'big league' games. We need to be pretty, otherwise we can't function as eyecandy. We can't be pretty, because then we're just in it for the attention. We need to have a thick skin, because 'real gamers' don't mind harassment when playing or discussing games online. We can't play social games, because those are so not real games. We can't just have a Wii either, because that doesn't have hardcore games on it(nevermind that they do, but some are always keen to overlook that)

    I fully support Anita researching these games and the tropes that come into play when it comes to female characters. I am interested in what her opinions are and I might even learn more about the history and about the good and bad. I do not see how this could possibly be a bad thing!

    If we want to take gaming seriously and take it to the next level, whatever that might be, we need to look at games critically. Gamers want for their hobby to be respected. In order for that to happen, games need to be deserving of respect, something which can definitely be complicated by the big amount of sexist and stereotypical things portrayed in games. Now I don't see whatever Anita might have to say as the end-all-be-all of the sexist gaming discussion, but it's definitely a start to possibly greater things.

    The harassment will always leave me dumbfounded though. If people don't like it, you always have the opportunity to look away(not valid in all cases though) or you speak up in a constructive manner. I don't see how stooping to such a low level is helpful in any way, to others, yourself or your cause.

    • "We are part of the gaming community as well, yet there seem to be so many arbitrary things we need to adhere to. We need to be better than average, or we're not worthy of being called a gamer. We need to be interested in more than just one genre, otherwise we've barely played any of the 'big league' games. We need to be pretty, otherwise we can't function as eyecandy. We can't be pretty, because then we're just in it for the attention. We need to have a thick skin, because 'real gamers' don't mind harassment when playing or discussing games online. We can't play social games, because those are so not real games. We can't just have a Wii either, because that doesn't have hardcore games on it(nevermind that they do, but some are always keen to overlook that)"

      I'm reminded of Edward James Olmos in Selena on being a Mexican-American: "We have to more American than the Americans, and more Mexican and the Mexicans! It's EXHAUSTING!"

    • Your comments are incredibly well-stated, Jessica. It's so true that women are often held to unreasonable standards in order to truly qualify for the vaunted status of "gamer" – and if you don't meet those standards, you're nothing more than a "gamer-girl" (ie, one who's in it for the attention and nothing more), a poser, or as that jag who went after Felicia Day on Twitter called her: "a glorified booth babe". Ugh.

      Video games for me are both a hobby and a passion, and not something to get all razzle-frazzle riled up about. That people treat them almost as a religion, and go after those who don't conform to a set of rules or standards with the ferocity of an inquisition, is mind-boggling to me.

  8. This is something just rolling around in my head since last night. Is it possible that, behind this "cyberwar" guise is a battle of the sexes? Is it possible that the "Dark Knight" *branding* of Anon has an appeal to Teen to mid-thirties males? Or is it possible an assumption of that nature could appeal to young women looking for a way to see "Justice" served? It seems to me that, among clues in that odd little… thing, that a common theme in the Security world involves a couple initiating a team, a bitter breakup that brings TMI into what *some* people call a war, and a story of dude not taking things seriously and exploiting his intelligent and perceptive significant other by making her do the brunt of actual investigation and then branding himself as the brains of the operation? That is plausible as a way too common story, even when it doesn't turn into Web gossip. *IF* the above two demographics did happen to be improbably stereotypical behind their respective online guises, could nearly ALL that crap be an exaggerated version of the topic of this post, and no one the wiser, despite the fact everyone claims to be some kind of "Intelligence"? I mostly base this postulation on noticing several in the Private-Intel scene immediately upset when one of "their own" did something, in my opinion, equally as unacceptable to a female "Netizen" as a male one. That is, leaving someone "innocent" in harm's way for the sake of one's own ego. (I don't want to be specific, as often things out of "lulz-world" are complete BS, and I wish to be more broad in this query.) I *could* easily see why a male teenage "hacker" could be viewed as "tough luck" while a female could be viewed as "in over her head" based on a lot of assumptions around gender stereotypes, both of the observer *and* of the perp/victim. I'm seriously trying to state this as a "what if" scenario that may be nothing more than my own blinders and assumptions, and early day reflections, but something strikes me as both having a hint of truth, and that is a dangerously sublime subtext in a game of world pwnage. Tell me that's crazy, please. Or better yet… boys and girls, we need to sit down as a planet and have a nice friendly chat about what's been bugging us lately, for the world's sake…

    • UnderOrange says:

      So… what? I mean, I really don't understand what you're 'what if' scenario even is. What are you even asking?

      What is this referring to? "a story of dude not taking things seriously and exploiting his intelligent and perceptive significant other by making her do the brunt of actual investigation and then branding himself as the brains of the operation?" Who is investigating what, exactly? I honestly have no idea who you're talking about and don't understand how any of this relates to people on the internet harassing Anita Sarkeesian.

      • Well, most of the comment made no sense at all, but at least one part makes me think that Nick missed the point by a country mile:

        " Or better yet… boys and girls, we need to sit down as a planet and have a nice friendly chat about what's been bugging us lately, for the world's sake…"

        False equivalence, ahoy!

  9. Goddamn nerds indeed. -_-

    These so called "intellectually superior" nerds sure do act like raging morons more often than not. I'm starting to think Mainstream embracing nerd culture was a bad idea after all….

    I mean it's just replaced one way to be racist, misogynistic White Male assclowns (cigar-smoking 50's crooners) with another (anxiety-raged superiority complex geeks), so fuck em. Throw them back in their little hole like they want and have the "mean dumb jokes" beat their asses all they want. It's not like they don't have it coming.

  10. sterling says:

    “Haters gunna hate”

    “Sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me.”

    Wonder what happened to the latter?

    As sucky as it is humans encompass a broad spectrum of emotion from love to hate to fear to joy and so on. IMO I don’t care a great deal of who hates who or what demographic hates another as long as they don’t act upon it physically or manipulate the law with it.

    I’m not promoting it but I’m not denying it.

    With the lack of (or diminshing) “man spaces” lately I’m not surprised that they’re feeling threatend to some degree. Sometimes guys are dicks and they’ll be dicks to eachother. Not always out of spite or malice. Not really logical but kind’ve a natural force of sorts. And being told not to feel something will often be responded with anger.

    These particular boys may still be in a prolonged state on teenagehood for possibly a various amounts of reasons (lack of adult male guidance etc).

    • Eponymous says:

      There's an interesting essay by Lucy Gillam on fandom and male privilege that points out that because we've lived so long in a world dominated by men, that any steps toward true equality is perceived to be biased in favor of women, like the fact that a group made of 50% women and 50% men is perceived as being mostly women. And I think that might be the case when you say, "lack of (or diminishing) man spaces."

      The next statements about guys just being dicks sometimes gives me bad shivers when you say it's simply a natural force. I think it's social conditioning–nice guys are seen as less "manly" by society and other guys after all, so why wouldn't all (or most) guys avoid that by being dicks? Also, "being told not to feel something will often be responded with anger"… obviously. Why do you think feminists have a reputation for being so angry all the time when guys tell them they're just "overreacting"? (The doctor has a great article about that topic, BTW, called "On Calling Women Crazy").

      Lastly (and I know I'm jumping around here), I don't think just because these trolls and haters haven't actually physically jumped Anita Sarkeesian or actually manipulated the law means that people should just shrug it off. I'm not saying we should do the naive, "Don't say anything if it's not nice," but there's a helluva lot of difference between disagreeing with someone and threatening to rape them, and the latter seriously needs some sort of smackdown.

      • sterling says:

        What I was thinking when I mentioned the man space thing is (and I’m aware this might sound like a ‘him v her’ kinda thing but bear with me) we see women only places (ie womens only gyms) which I respect yet few if any in the opposite. I’m all in favor for having three: Womens Mens and unisex.

        IMO I think society is a by-product of nature. Yeah we’re evolved (mostly civilised) animals but at our cores animals nonetheless and those animal tendencies often manifest albeit differently than a century ago or even in Homo Erectus stage. Which is

        why I believe a lack of proper guidance often leads to such behavior. Then again even the most well bred, civilised and kind person will become savage if starved/caged/cornered. Nature aint pretty or fair the whole time.

        • amoebae says:

          In terms of women only gyms, for example – that stems from 2 things: 1) gyms can often be perceived as male spaces, and since women often experience life as being objects for men to comment on, having a 'safe space' in which to exercise without worrying about men checking you out and leering at you can be comforting; 2) following the first reason, it's a marketing ploy intended to capture a consumer base and keep them loyal; a great deal of money has been made from maintaining a divide between men and women.

          However, it's a flawed argument to make to begin with. I can understand why some men might bristle at the thought of women getting to have a special place but men not being afforded the same (in name, at least). But men and women have not historically been treated as having the same rights to space to begin with. Men have always historically had their own special places – which was basically anywhere in the public sphere. In response to that, in a society where women are not made to feel welcome as an equal member of society but as a special consideration, or as a curiosity, it's quite natural that the first step to empowering oneself will be to build a space for yourself where you can participate in public life on your own terms without being made to feel like you are a second class citizen. It's a first step, and it wouldn't be necessary if the transition to a society where default didn't = white male was as easy as women just participating and it not being a big deal or somehow different.

          Hopefully the future holds a society where men and women and everyone in between can mingle and exist on a level footing, AND have their own spaces if they want, without it being about any kind of gender-based power struggle. But until then, it's perfectly understandable that women will look for spaces that make them feel like whole human beings.

          • sterling says:

            I don’t think it’s valid reasoning to say “because it was the other way around back then it’s justified now”. To me I find that akin to condoning slavery but races reversed. Nor should anyone feel guilt (or even pride for that matter) for the deeds/crimes of their parents or ancestors.

            Anyway perhaps listening to these people with a degree of compasion rather than condemnation and labeling might reach a better conclusion.

          • amoebae says:

            I'm sorry, but I think you aren't understanding fully what I'm saying. It sounds like you think I'm saying that back in the past women were kept out of mainstream society, and so in order to redress the balance they are now seeking to keep men out of mainstream society. That is not at all what I said.

            First, there is no 'back then.' Even now, society is a male-friendly space by default. That is as it always has been. And that hasn't changed. Despite the increased presence of women in public life, the normalcy of men in public life hasn't altered. We don't question when men get positions of power. We don't comment on a man's gender when he is lauded for something or other, but we do when it is a woman. That's because we view it as quite natural and normal for a man to be successful or even just present in public life, whereas women are 'not-men.'

            We don't see, as a general rule, 'men-only' gyms because there don't need to be any. Gyms are already friendly spaces to men, and the default setting for public spaces is that men are welcome and will not be discriminated against because of their gender. And those spaces *should* be open to men, to exist in them without any reference to maleness. But they should also be open to women, without any reference to femaleness. 'Woman' should be just as default a setting as 'man,' as should any gender. Yes, I know they generally are 'open' to women, but men and women using the same space is not the same as men and women being treated the same when using the same space.

            While progress has plodded ever forward, and women exist in those spaces with more frequency (although still not in all of them, and/or not always to the same degree – hence our discussion about video games) there is some truth in the statement that "women are women, men are people." It isn't that there is a male world and women want there to be a female world to counter-balance it, or to unseat men from their male world and transplant themselves; it is that there is *the* world, and women want to be as default a part of it as men currently enjoy being. But since that progress is slow-going, in the meantime women still want to be able to live their lives, so they create spaces where they can exist without having to feel the constant pressure of being judged as being nothing but 'other' to men.

            It's fallacious to suggest this is like condoning white slavery because there used to be black slavery (doubly so because it sounds like you're implying anyone creating an African-American group, for example, wants to turn white people into slaves, which…just…. I'm sure that's not what you meant, but that's where the train of logic goes).

            To clarify all my talk of 'default': If someone picks up a novel and starts reading, and the narrator or protagonist is not described – they don't say they are male or female, they are not referred to by a gendered name, their ethnicity nor any markers of it is not stated, their sexual orientation isn't commented upon – then most people will likely 'default' in their subconscious to assume that character is a white, heterosexual man. That's not because they are 'evil oppressors' or are racist or misogynists or homophobes. That's simply because the default setting in our society is white, it is male, and it is straight. That gives straight white men a heck of a lot of privilege to carry around with them through life. It also means that anyone who isn't those things has to generally try harder, or even fight, to be afforded the same benefits. And so, we don't need to label areas as men only because everywhere is by default a male space. It's already 'men-only,' but women have been allowed to come in a bit more lately. So while we work on making "human" the default setting, in the meantime the people who aren't afforded the same easy privileges as the current default will sometimes seek out spaces in which they can feel at ease, where they don't have to feel like it's a constant struggle, where they don't need to worry if they will be looked down on because of their gender (or race, or sexuality, or able-bodiedness, etc.), or treated differently because of it. It isn't about creating an "us versus them" society, because one of those already exists. It's about fleeing to a safe space where us versus them doesn't matter. Even if it's just for a while.

            Once we can read a novel and think "I imagine this protagonist is a woman in her 40s, with dark skin" and it be just as realistic as if we read a novel and thought "I assume this protagonist is a white man in his 40s" then the concept of people of any ethnic/gender/whatever group wanting to congregate together won't be seen as an attack on privilege any more. But we're not there yet.

          • Eponymous says:

            I love your post. It's like you read my mind and made it better by 100X.

            The concept of the default being male, and using the novel as an example, is really interesting because when I took a science fiction class during the spring, we had a lot of discussions where someone thought a first-person narrator was female instead of male. It gives me hope that we're actually making progress in changing the default.

            Also, I wanted to elaborate on your statement, "Yes, I know [public spaces] generally are 'open' to women, but men and women using the same space is not the same as men and women being treated the same when using the same space." I think this is a point that a lot of men miss, because they don't personally perceive the difference between the two. They think that just because the door doesn't explicitly say, "No Women Allowed", that equality has automatically been achieved. For example, I love video games. I am extremely bad at them, but I love the ones I've managed to play through with an undying passion. I might get better at video games if I played more of them, but almost all the female characters on the covers look half a second away from a fashion faux pas, which I am not a fan of. I'm allowed to buy the video game, and I am certainly allowed to play it, but it might as well have a "No Women Allowed" stamp on it for all it makes me feel.

          • amoebae says:

            The science fiction thing is interesting actually. Written science fiction has often been a place where norms are subverted (although it's equally been a place where norms are deeply entrenched). The ability to imagine worlds that are like ours but not gives us a freedom to allow people who are on the margins of society a greater role without it making the kind of overt statement it might do were it in regular fiction.

            That's not to say the genre, and even its attempts to subvert norms, isn't without its own problems. But it's always been a place of tension, exploration, and of liberation.

            It's a shame that same desire to explore and mess with traditional roles hasn't passed over into science fiction gaming. Of course, we have some strong characters, like a female Commander Shepard from the Mass Effect series, but the series itself is wrought with messy gender issues (although it has made progress in some areas over the course of its trilogy). But perhaps it shouldn't be that surprising, since as an industry it's entirely different than that of literature. No, perhaps it's not surprising, but it's certainly a damned shame.

          • Dr_NerdLove says:

            Thing is, science fiction that challenged societal norms is relatively new. It really wasn't until the New Wave of Sci Fi writers (Alfred Bester, Ursula K. Le Guin, Harlan Ellison) who moved it away from “traditional” sci fi (robots, ray guns and rocket ships) and into social commentary and political subtext.The original backbone of sci-fi is conservative and old-fashioned as hell.

          • amoebae says:

            Indeed, hence my reference to it also being a place where those traditional roles have been entrenched.

            But still, as we've seen science fiction literature be one of the places where roles have been subverted, and a lot has been written about why the genre might lend itself to that, you might idly suppose you'd see something similar in other science fiction mediums, like games, but of course audiences, expectations, marketing, production, goals and money is completely different in the game industry than it is in publishing.

          • Ray Bradbury blows your comment out of the water. He was always making social commentary. Farenheit 451 (comments on going against "the man"), Martian Chronicles (comments on racism), The Veldt (Comments on letting machines do your work for you, especially the raising of your children), The Murderer (comments on the pervasiveness of new technologies), the list continues. Bradbury became famous during the days when sci-fi was mostly published in magazines. We are talking 40's and 50s. If that's not the "origins of sci-fi" at least in America, I don't know what is.

          • Lurkerina says:

            Infinity likes.

        • Lurkerina says:

          The thing is, the entire world is men's space. Every single real life or internet space that is not specifically and painstakingly protective of women is more comfortable, more catering to men. And living in that kind of world is incredibly tiring because those spaces are ones in which women do not feel safe, in which their bodies are deemed to be public property, in which their autonomy is denied, in which their voices are deemed irrelevant and even irrational, and in which their sexuality is merely a tool for men's enjoyment.

          Society is not the mitigating factor against misogyny and hatred of women, it is the enforcer of it.

          • amoebae says:

            Tiring is exactly the word I often use when talking about this. It is incredibly tiring to have to fight constantly to define who you are, because men get priority to define you first. For sure, 'society' judges each and every one of us as soon as we interact with it in some way, but we each of us has a right to define who we say we are, and that right is constantly and consistently taken away from women, in myraid ways.

            But of course, it's not just taken away from women, by men. It's taken away from various ethnic minorities by people of other ethnicities. It's take away from gay people by straight people. It's taken away from the disabled by the able-bodied. It's taken away from the poor by the rich. And we shouldn't generalise either. As someone in another comment rightly pointed out, the image of the "white male geek" shouldn't always be what we go to, because there are people of colour who are misogynists too. There are women who work against other women as well, for various reasons. Oppression can be enacted by anyone with privilege upon anyone who lacks that privilege. And someone can have privilege in one situation, and lack it in another. This is a complex issue, one not aided by generalisations, as much as I admit they are useful in getting across some basic points.

          • Lurkerina says:

            Indeed.

            Tiring and dangerous, as we become so inured to the field of hatred we are no longer shocked at death and rape threats on the internet, or even in real life.

            I absolutely agree with you here. One thing that hasn't come up very much in the rightful furore over the harassment and attacks on Anita Sarkeesian is the problem of racialized sexual harassment to women who are not white, both in the representation of women of color characters and treatment of women of color gamers. But also the treatment of women by men of color, the treatment of men of color by white people of both genders, the various other oppressions that exist and intersect in our culture that privileges maleness and whiteness above all other things. Treating the misogyny displayed by the gamer community as 'those white, male, immature assholes are just being boys' really obscures the complexity of the oppressive problems in games as well as the root those problems have in the larger culture which privileges certain characteristics (whiteness, maleness, ableness, richness, etc) at certain times, but white males all the time.

          • amoebae says:

            And that's just it, of course: the root problems in larger culture. That's why it's so important to keep having this discussion. Because this isn't actually just about how women are represented in video games, but about how that's a distilled example of how women are represented in society as a whole. When there aren't many lead protagonists of games that are non-white, that mirrors how society (in the west) has typically favoured whites. And so on and so forth. Gamer culture, or geek culture more broadly, can't close itself off from the realities of the rest of society. it is a part of it, it interacts with it, informs it and is informed by it, even if members of that community themselves would rather keep away from society. The point is there should be no safe preserve where men can continue to treat women as if they are objects merely to be consumed (which is what some men in this debate argue – not all, just some). Because there is no place that is exempt from being a part of society at large.

      • sterling says:

        And “nice guys” are assholes too. If they don’t get what they think they deserve. Which is why I don’t subscribe to the idea of Karma.

        Yeah I read the “Labelling Women Crazy” bit and yes I agree being not to feel something that feels natural is maddening. Im being objective.

        The death threats and such, out of line for sure. I can understand one feeling their safety might be at risk. I guess I can’t really relate to that too well m’self though.

        • Gentleman Johnny says:

          I beg to disagree. Manipulative guys become assholes when their pretense of being nice doesn't produce the desired reward. Genuinely good people can behave kindly without requiring a reward.

    • John Cecil says:

      I largely agree with you, but I think one has to find it odd that in response to Ms. Sarkeesian's "overreacting," some dude decided to spend his time making a game wherein her face is pummeled.

      In a way, those who disagree with Sarkeesian's premise are the ones who should be the most offended by this reaction to her project. Instead of refuting her points with valid points of their own, this pack of bozos has lowered the discussion to the level of apes. And not even cool apes like gorillas.

  11. One point I'd like to make abut the Tomb Raider thing, which was briefly mentioned.

    It seems to me like the initial idea for the newest Tomb Raider game was to take a character who was unique in video games, because she was a female protagonist, but also had a lot of issues (unrealistic proportions, tiny clothes), and reboot her as a Strong Female Character. Her character model is more realistic, and by adding a backstory they would make her into a more well rounded, 3-dimensional character.

    Admittedly, they went about this in literally the worst way possible (probably due to a lack of women on the development team). The thing is, though, their hearts were in the right place. They heard criticism and made steps to fix some of the issues with women's portrayals in video games; they just sort of fucked it up (and their responses to fan criticism was not the best).

    My point is that it is getting better, slowly but surely. I do sincerely believe that all of this is just video games' awkward transition from puberty to adulthood, and that they will eventually sort their shit out (largely due to people like Sarkeesian and her supporters).

    • amoebae says:

      I agree. I don't think the Lara Croft thing was in any way a conscious attempt to belittle a strong woman or make her nothing but someone with a relationship to being sexually dominated. Sadly, they didn't think it through, weren't aware of the connotations of what they were proposing, and handled it all very badly. And you are right, that it's through people like Sarkeesian, and all those who stand up against everything from outright violent misogyny to confused misunderstanding of the issues, that the industry and its communities will slowly change. Of course, the developers and writers themselves have a huge role here, and it shouldn't all be focused on the consumers. The producers of the games we play are responsible for the images they create, and are well aware of the context of the world into which they publish them. Responsibility lies with everyone.

      • Lurkerina says:

        If the Lara Croft backstory was indeed created with their 'hearts in the right place,' it just illustrates the level to which misogyny is embedded in our society. She can't suffer a loss of a family member, live through a difficult childhood, or just be strong because she is (all backstories explaining the strength of male characters). Nope, the only way for women to be strong is to be almost raped. This is so incredibly insulting, I can hardly discuss it intelligently. Rape does not make a woman strong. This fallacy trivializes and romanticizes rape at the same time. Women can be strong. Period. Full stop.

        • amoebae says:

          Well said. Women don't need to be victims before they can display strength. They can just be strong.

        • It is insulting, distressing and maddening that rape or almost-rape is treated as some kind of a short-cut to character development in our society. (For women, only, naturally.) That it is used to communicate vulenrability in women who might otherwise come off as too "bitchy," like L&O:SVU and Treme, to give two recent examples, and a short-cut to maturation like in The Borgias and Game of Thrones.

  12. A lot of the sexism in fandom comes from geek anti-intellectualism and self-indulgence. Many geek men do not like it when people say things that are even slightly negative about their interests and do not like their self-indulgence pointed out to them. When combined with frustration with their love and sex lives and inability to think that this might be at least partly their fault, you get geek mysogyny.

  13. kaminkatze says:

    Very good summary of the whole shitstorm, and even though I find lots of right things in your post, I find myself not agreeing with your "What's the point of all of this?" section.

    Do not get me wrong, I would hardly argue that the gaming nerd culture as it is, is a healthy thing, but your mono-causal explanation of why it is the way it is, does not really convince me.
    Basically you insist that the teenage power fantasy is the defining trait of nerd culture, whereas completely ignoring the overall veneration of masculinity (and subsequent degradation of feminity) in other male-dominated social circles (just think of the frat house behavior often found among businessmen).

    So personally, I would say, even though the expression of this misogynist shitstorm has written "male white gamer nerds" all over it, I think that it is dangerous to confine its actual emergence to this special group of people. Unfortunately I am convinced that this could have in different forms almost everywhere in our societies…

    • amoebae says:

      Yes, it almost seems like it's missing a huge, and incredibly important, part of the puzzle by simply describing this in terms of impotent lonely teenage angst and rage. Nothing occurs in a vacuum, and even though some gamers or geeks might withdraw from what we class as 'mainstream' society to an extent, that doesn't mean they aren't products of that society nor that they don't engage with it.

      Something that's missing from a lot of discussions (on this, and around 'identity politics' in general) is intersectionality – the understanding that we aren't defined by one characteristic but by multiple, and that those characteristics are in flux, always being added to, torn down, refigured as we interact with society and society interacts with us.

      Discussing the misogyny in some parts of geek culture is so important precisely because it feeds back into gender representation and human interactions in all parts of society, just as other parts of society feed into it. Geek culture isn't a walled garden, as much as some of its members want it to be. It informs and is informed by everything it interacts with, however obliquely, and that's why these discussions, these articles, and Sarkeesian's videos, need to keep emerging.

    • I take issue with blaming this on "male white gamer nerds," because it doesn't take into account the fact that a lot of the vitriol comes from people who are not, in fact, white. This isn't really a racial issue at all. While I would argue that video games could certainly use more minority characters and protagonists, that's not really what this is about.

      • Really? You ever seen the reaction of the same group of people when race in gaming is discussed? The fact that the conversation gets pretty ugly pretty quickly is a pretty good indicator that "male white gamer nerds" is apt. Don't believe me? Google "racism in gaming" and check out the comments on some of the blog posts you find.

        • x_Sanguine_8 says:

          Err, Bertie – Max is saying that sexism is a Male thing, not just a White Male thing. No one is contesting that online racism doesn't happen (it's a whole other issue that the Doc may or may not get to) – Max is just expanding it to include male geeks of all ethnicities, because (sadly) males of all ethnicities participate in online sexism.

  14. Patrick says:

    Paul, I'm not sure if the above is your opinion or if you're quoting someone else's egregious point of view, but I trust that you understand the difference between "I disagree with Sarkeesian's point of view (or what I *predict* will be Sarkeesian"s point of view) and here's why", and harassing/making rape threats/attempting to shut down the debate entirely. Likewise the difference between gaslighting and pointing out that rape threats = never acceptable under any circumstance.

  15. Dr Nefarious says:

    I like your point about all of us calling out the haters and the trolls. That kind of crap only happens when the rest of us tolerate it. Tolerance for hatred and violence isn't a virtue (to crib a line from a comic I recently read) and we all have a responsibility not only to treat everyone the way we would like to be treated, but to say "STOP" when we see misbehavior.

    • amoebae says:

      Absolutely. And it's something that needs to happen a lot more. And, in fact, it's quite important that men be seen to be standing up to this behaviour in numbers, and not just women. Of course, one of the heartening things to come out of all of this (and other things like it recently, like the various discussions about online misogyny more generally that were featured in a UK mainstream newspaper a few months ago, for example) is that there have been a fair few male voices being heard, standing up and saying "this is not acceptable." Since those engaging in the hateful behaviour are drawing a line between men and women, having people other than only women confronting them about it is crucial. They need to know that they are not defending some sort of masculine refuge from evil women, but that they are being idiots and denying a comfortable and pleasant space for ALL people to use.

      • I sort of feel like calling out the sexism or hate or misbehaviour really an uphill battle when 50% of what I hear on this topic is ‘don’t feed the trolls’. That just feels like a huge impediment to creating a safe working community for anyone when the second you stand up for yourself by calling out some jerk, the cry goes out to stop confronting the hate. It’s seen as a virtue. I can’t help but think if the whole community stood upand said ‘you individual have broken a basic rule of conduct and you are not welcome here’ this kind of thing would be a non-issue.
        I would really love it too if the men in my life who are all gamers would post at least one article or comment on their facebook or twitter. I have talked to them about it but they haven’t. They all get immensely uncomfortable when the topic comes up. It is very disappointing.

  16. Soledad says:

    Surprisingly even-handed take on the whole thing. Good article.

    I'd like to add a few notes on my observations over the whole thing.

    Firstly, people keep saying "no one is trying to censor you or take your toys away". I disagree. It certainly doesn't seem that way from my point of view, sometimes… the good Doctor even noted that the campaign against Ben veered quite close to the same sort of "no, YOU shut up!" stuff he was accused of doing.

    No, what I mean is that I'm confused by people who say "There's nothing wrong with wanting to enjoy sexy video game characters, no one is calling for censorship", and then write lengthy articles calling said characters Everything That's Wrong With the Industry and calling me a stunted nerd with issues for liking them. So the solution would be to not have them anymore, right? Well, that certainly is taking someone's toys away. And if you're going to tell me that no, that's not what folks are pushing for, answer me this; will it be possible to release sexy material that someone *isn't* going to latch onto as horrible and write an article about? People say it wasn't Catwoman's cleavage that bothered them about Arkham City, but all the b-words being thrown around. 'kay. I get that. But people were complaining about the female characters' costumes in Arkham Asylum, also. Would it have been okay to keep Poison Ivy in a thong if Harley had stayed in her original harlequin outfit, or would we have what I like to call Soul Calibur Syndrome – where people hold up Ivy as an example of how women in games are sexistly portrayed but conveniently forget that there are four other female characters in the game (SCIV, anyway – it's the only one I've played) who aren't? (Well, I'm sure some people are going to tell me I'm wrong and they are, in fact, just as bad as Ivy – at which point I'll have to admit that I'm confused. A short skirt is always sexist, so we should never have short skirts and all female characters should wear pants?)

    Then, you have the folks who *do* seem to overreact. I heard recently that some folks had an issue with Miranda from ME3. I'm a good 3/4's into the way of ME3 and I've yet to see what they're on about. To hear folks talk, the camera follows her ass around every time she's onscreen. That's not what happens. Two shots are framed such that, in order to get a low angle of Shepard, Miranda's butt is in view. That's it. Am I showing my privilege by being confused as to how this is horrible?

    (part deux to come. bleh)

    • Having a short skirt isn't sexist, but it isn't only Ivy. Hilde's outfit is the only one not designed to be super-sexualized; Taki is as infamous as Ivy for her nipple-revealing skintight suit, and Cassandra's finishing move in SCIV was her jumping on an opponent's face while pink hearts came out of her butt. Really.

      • Soledad says:

        Mira,

        Thanks for the info. I've honestly never heard anyone complain about Taki, nor did I ever notice nipples on her outfit. And my friends and I aren't good enough at the game to have seen any of the finishers. Consider my comments about SCIV withdrawn.

  17. Soledad says:

    Anyway, let's move away from that to the nerds themselves. Part of the problem is the way female gamers are marketed, for lack of a better word. I'm sure this is a glaring example of a problem with the big picture anyway, but to the media portrays female gamers as "just like me", and therefore, for lack of a better term, "accessable". Guys, she likes Animal Crossing, too! Go ahead and talk to her, she'll geek out with you about Fallout for hours on end instead of laughing at you for being a pathetic nerdboy. Guys, Felicia Day and Aisha Tyler may be ridiculously hot models who make records and star on TV, but they like to blow stuff up in Mass Effect, too! See? They're real gamers Just Like You.

    Except nerds (the kind this and other articles discuss, anyway) know that Felicia Day and Aisha Tyler are *not* Just Like Us. (Disclaimer; I really don't know if I fit into this camp. I'm kinda-sorta just speculating, here) – 'cause after all, well, they're ridiculously hot models who make records and start on TV. They,re Just Like You but they're *still* out of your league, you pathetic nerdboy. And don't even try to talk to them if you see them out and about, because you'll be the fiftieth nerdboy who's mobbed them today – and if you do, for God's Sake don't ask them for their number, you drooling neanderthal. Because you're not good enough for them. (And here we get into all of the other confusing bullshit that causes Doc to have to maintain this site.) If I had to guess, I'd say it's not so much entitlement as constantly being told something is simultaneously okay to do and then being shamed for doing it, with the secondary message of "well, no one would shame you if you had any clue as to how to do it properly."

    Seriously, though – listen to gamer girls complain about gamer guys. They do it – a lot. Now, I'm quite aware that it's usually the actual jackasses they're complaining about, but then you get articles like "Don't Be a Creeper" that put forth the notion that no reasonable woman complains about guys who approach them respectfully so if they do complain, well, you must not have done it respectfully and if you think you did, you really didn't, because you're stupid and clueless. So a guy on the fence is left wondering how the hell he can approach someone at all without being mocked.

    Anyway. The long and short of it is, yeah. These guys are frustrated. They're being told they can't like what they like, because what they like is Bad, and when they object, they're told they're too blind and/or privileged to understand why it's bad. Then they're told they should want more women in their hobby, but those women make it clear they don't want to have anything to do with them. Then the media comes along and pushes hot stars in their face and tells them they're simultaneously One Of You and Out of Your League.

    And then they get angry. Shock. Horror.

    Finally, before I go, a bit on entitlement. I've read Doc's article on it. I get it. But I don't know if I'd say frustration at being constantly turned down is always about entitlement. I don't feel like I'm entitled to anything, but I do get frustrated at being told I constantly have to improve myself. I make improvements, but it's never enough. No amount of hobbies, style, body language, interests, or anything is ever enough. And then I see my friends with girlfriends and wonder what's wrong with me – because if I wasn't blind, I'd see it. It's enough to irritate anyone, IMHO.

    Keep up the good work, Doc.

    • To respond to two of your points…

      re "taking toys away", I can't comment on the specific games you mentioned because I haven't played them. But the problem isn't that people feel there should be *no* sexy female characters in video games, it's that they are so much the default still that every time we see another one, it's frustrating. If 80% of all the females characters across all video games were allowed to wear as much clothing as the male characters do and to have personalities beyond being sexually appealing, then I don't think there'd be an outcry about the other 20%. It's kind of like if you're already having a bad day, you end up being extra irritated by every little thing that goes wrong. If the general atmosphere was more respectful of women, there'd be plenty of room for sexy characters in the mix.

      re: Being turned down and frustration–I've seen guys mention this issue a lot in comments on various posts here, and I think you have to realize that this isn't a guy problem. It's a human problem. There are just as many women as men who feel under-appreciated by the opposite sex, like they can't get anyone to pay attention to them or show an interest in them no matter what they do, like they're never good enough.

      I can use myself as an example. I'm not movie star gorgeous, but I know I'm reasonably physically attractive. I take care of myself and wear clothes that suit my body type. Sometimes I wear make-up, sometimes I show cleavage. And I have *never* been asked out by a guy in person. All of the dates I've gone on were with guys I met online one way or another. The guy I'm now married to I met online.

      Throughout high school, before I'd gone on any dates at all, I got a lot of messages about what I was doing wrong from the media and from other people. I was smart and got good grades–too intimidating to the guys! I was shy in social events–need to act more flirty! I tended to enjoy solitary pastimes–need to get out more! And I tried all sorts of things and none of it worked and for quite a while I wondered if there was just something wrong with me, if I was inherently unlovable somehow.

      But the thing is, I never assumed that the problem was with the male gender as a whole. I never decided that men were just putting these standards on me that weren't fair. Some people just have trouble finding their place in the dating game, male and female. It totally sucks. But I don't think it's fair for guys who have trouble romantically to blame it on women as a whole either.

      • Soledad says:

        Mel,

        re: toys, et. al

        I've heard that reasoning before, actually – it's not that it exists, it's the quantity. This part leaves me scratching my head. For one thing, as I said before, how much is too much? Ivy is one character out of five. Is one out of five too much? Also, how do we fix the quantity except by not making any more of it until it balances out? Also also wik, how do we handle the cases where there is Much Ado About Nothing? Fact is, you can't tell someone they're overreacting without being accused of gaslighting… so will this problem ever truly go away?

        Full disclosure, here; I'm a game developer and I have been for the last decade. I have no idea how to solve this problem in such a way that everyone will be happy. I also want to say that a lot of the stuff people write about, I've never encountered directly or even borne witness to… and I'm confused by that. After all, if it's such a big issue, I should be seeing it all over the place. Then again, I never got to go to E3, so…

        As to your other stuff about dating – I'm just going to throw a few things out there.

        1) You go on about how no one asked you out, etc. But you're now married. I'm still single, and I'm going to wager I'm a lot older than you. Divorced, sure, but she was the exception, IMHO. I was never popular with women either before or after. It's been eight years since the divorce. I haven't had a girlfriend since. I see this a lot with women who I discuss dating issues with – they go on about how difficult they have it, and then end their anecdote with "…and then I finally found the right man."

        2) While I agree with you that assuming the problem is the other gender is wrong, the fact is that if a woman writes an article about how hard women have it in dating, and how rotten men treat them, it gets picked up by sites like Jezebel and thrown all over the Internet as proof of something (patriarchy, I guess?) – but if a man writes an article about how hard men have it in dating, and how badly they've been treated by women, he's a whiner and needs to shut the fuck up, because it was his fault she treated him that way (somehow). Then he should come here and read the articles to figure out how not to be rotten, because in the Doc's own words, "it's not hard to get laid if you bathe once in a while."

        In other words, yes, a lot of women do blame men. And they get cheered on for it. Whereas men who blame women get kicked and told to take a shower.

        Double standard, I think. And sure, while I don't agree with these guys' line of thinking, I can see where it comes from. I'm not good enough for a woman to pay attention to, oh, and here's Felicia Day in a tank top. Stay the hell away from her. Fact is, shaming men is en vogue right now. 'course, I fully expect to have someone mock the living hell out of me for feeling that way, because my feelings are wrong. Even though we just had an article on dismissing feelings being a form of abuse. Christ. My head is spinning.

        • Lurkerina says:

          Here's a thought: treat women like people. I find that when you assume someone is human, you can relate to them a little easier, even if they are extremely different from you.

          This advice applies to both the dating issues you mentioned and the issues of how to represent women in video games. Treat them like people. The problem women have is not that women characters in games are represented as 'sexy,' (within the confines of what heterosexual men in Western culture find sexy, of course); it is that the sexiness is their defining attribute. They have no personality, the representation is often incredibly impractical (fight bad guys in 5 inch stilettos? go into sword combat with your vital organs exposed? Sure, why not) and driven solely by the need to appear attractive to heterosexual male gamers. These characters are not people. They are objects to be used by men.

          As to your confusion about the prevalence of misogyny; male privilege allows you not to see the mountains of crap women have to wade through just to play the game they want to, or do their job, or participate in society in any meaningful way. If you can't see the problem, likelihood is that you are part of the problem.

          So once again, the remedy is fairly simple (which is not to say easy, decades of engrained societal messages are not always easy to overcome). Women are not mysterious beings from another planet who's minds are so different from men's that they cannot communicate, they are human beings. Women are people. Treat them like people.

          • Soledad says:

            "Here's a thought: treat women like people. I find that when you assume someone is human, you can relate to them a little easier, even if they are extremely different from you."

            I find it interesting that you immediately assume that I don't. That's what's so frustrating. I do treat women like people. I do all the stuff in the articles. I genuinely like women. And yet, I'm single. So, what am I doing wrong? I must be doing *something* wrong.

            "The problem women have is not that women characters in games are represented as 'sexy,' (within the confines of what heterosexual men in Western culture find sexy, of course); it is that the sexiness is their defining attribute. They have no personality, the representation is often incredibly impractical (fight bad guys in 5 inch stilettos? go into sword combat with your vital organs exposed? Sure, why not) and driven solely by the need to appear attractive to heterosexual male gamers. These characters are not people. They are objects to be used by men."

            I fully admit that my viewpoint might be skewed by the fact that I don't play these kinds of games, so I may have a bad idea of what proportion of good portrayals there are versus bad. Like I said above, I was puzzled to see people complain about Mass Effect because, well, Miranda is a fully-rounded character with motivations, a personality, and ambitions. She's important to the plot, and doesn't go into combat in stilettos (none of the characters do, really). And yet, she was still recently trotted out as an example of Male Gaze for a two-second butt shot. That's when I have to say I Just Don't Get It.

            Conversely, I'm surprised no one's said word one about the Holsom Twins from DNF. I would figure Duke would be the poster boy for this sort of thing.

            So, I guess my real question is, "is it possible for a character to be presented as sexy without leaving room for the interpretation that she's solely there for male objectification?"

            "As to your confusion about the prevalence of misogyny; male privilege allows you not to see the mountains of crap women have to wade through just to play the game they want to, or do their job, or participate in society in any meaningful way. If you can't see the problem, likelihood is that you are part of the problem."

            This is a self-sealing argument, IMHO – because I can't prove that nothing happened at the places I worked any more than you can prove that anything did. All I can say is that I never personally heard or saw anyone treat any of my female colleagues in a way that would be considered sexist. No one hit on them in my presence, or told them they couldn't do their jobs, or anything like that.

            I do remember one particular interesting anecdote from my last job, though. We were working on an animated chat client that had emotes. You could hug people, and so forth. Some of the emotes were violent; you could slap people, kick them, etc. A few of my coworkers (male, no less) took one look at that design feature and said to the CEO, "Are you mental? Do you really think that's not going to get abused by some misogynistic asshole within five minutes of launch?"

            The CEO argued about it, but eventually it became a company-wide discussion. Everyone backed the guys who originally objected, and finally the CEO backed down. Violent emotes would work on men only. Which… didn't make me happy, because that sent a different message entirely, but whatever.

          • "This is a self-sealing argument, IMHO – because I can't prove that nothing happened at the places I worked any more than you can prove that anything did. All I can say is that I never personally heard or saw anyone treat any of my female colleagues in a way that would be considered sexist."

            In light of the rest of your comments, I'm not entirely prepared to trust your judgement on this score. There are very few spaces where sexism and misogyny is as apparent as in the video game industry and yet you don't seem to grasp what the problem is, especially as you seem to think that the solution people are pushing are "taking away men's toys" as opposed to the reality which is "giving women some toys to play with too!"

            "I do treat women like people. I do all the stuff in the articles. I genuinely like women. And yet, I'm single. So, what am I doing wrong? I must be doing *something* wrong."

            Well, I'm not entirely prepared to trust your judgement on this either, but assuming you're right, have you thought about trying to date less conventionally-attractive women?

          • "In light of the rest of your comments, I'm not entirely prepared to trust your judgement on this score."

            You know, I just have to remark that if I weren't a guy, this would be considered dismissal and/or gaslighting. Still, I'm fully prepared to admit that there's something going on that I didn't see. After all, if people were going to sexually harass my colleagues they wouldn't do it in front of witnesses. I wasn't trying to dismiss anyone's experiences, just saying that I found it weird that I never saw it because it's obviously going on. I've never borne witness to a fatal car crash, either – that doesn't mean the roads are safe.

            "There are very few spaces where sexism and misogyny is as apparent as in the video game industry and yet you don't seem to grasp what the problem is, especially as you seem to think that the solution people are pushing are "taking away men's toys" as opposed to the reality which is "giving women some toys to play with too!"

            I didn't say I felt that the solution was taking people's toys away. I said I can understand why people who do feel that way, feel that way. I also am not sure that a solution can be reached that will make everyone happy, TBH. Only time will tell, and I hope I'm wrong.

            I'm all in favor of giving women some toys to play – but the implication that I'm hearing is that since you have to say "give us some toys", that there aren't any at all. And that DEFINITELY baffles me. I dated a gamer girl a few years ago (she was a tester at EA) who was very sensitive to this kind of thing, and she still managed to find loads of games to play that didn't offend her. Maybe I'm just nitpicking semantics. "Give us *more* toys?" Sure. I agree with that. Everybody wins. But I have to ask this; until this balance in the industry is achieved, can a game like Lollipop Chainsaw be released and not have someone write an article about it, or must there be a moratorium on this kind of material until said balance is achieved? Maybe that's a false dichotomy, but I do wonder – because if there must be a moratorium, that's censorship, and I oppose that.

            "Well, I'm not entirely prepared to trust your judgement on this either, but assuming you're right, have you thought about trying to date less conventionally-attractive women? "

            How do you know what kind of women I try to date? The irony is, my friends, both male and female, keep telling me there's nothing wrong with me… but I keep dismissing their opinions. Funny how that works.

          • BertieW says:

            The only thing I know about the women you try to date is that you're not having much success with dating them. At least that is how I interpreted your lament about your current state of singlehood. Usually this is an indication that you're going for women who are not interested in you, for some reason. So you can either continue what you're doing and suffer a similar rejection rate, or you can try going for women who have lower standards. That doesn't mean that you need to date women who are less attractive, necessarily, but you will probably need to make SOME trade-offs.

            "You know, I just have to remark that if I weren't a guy, this would be considered dismissal and/or gaslighting."

            That's not gaslighting. As I wrote in the very next sentence that if you're not seeing the rampant misogyny in the video game industry and misunderstanding what people fighting against it want to achieve then you're probably not seeing workplace sexism which tends to be much more subtle.

            So, no you don't have to remark anything, but it sure is an effective way to derail an argument to wrap oneself in the mantle of victimhood.

          • Soledad says:

            "Usually this is an indication that you're going for women who are not interested in you, for some reason. So you can either continue what you're doing and suffer a similar rejection rate, or you can try going for women who have lower standards. That doesn't mean that you need to date women who are less attractive, necessarily, but you will probably need to make SOME trade-offs. "

            This is completely true. I'm currently at the point where I'm trying to figure out what those trade-offs need to be. It's a bit of a triple-bind, really… and by my perception, I can't even just "settle" for the kind of woman who finds me attractive but may be below my standards because no woman finds me attractive. I just get frustrated when people assume that I'm getting shot down because I just want Olivia Munn and no mere mortal can live up to that.

            "That's not gaslighting. As I wrote in the very next sentence that if you're not seeing the rampant misogyny in the video game industry and misunderstanding what people fighting against it want to achieve then you're probably not seeing workplace sexism which tends to be much more subtle."

            It came across to me as "you don't really know what you're seeing", which is the very definition of gaslighting, IMHO – but yes, looking over it again I realize that I misunderstood you. Sorry about that. I'd be very upset to know any of my female colleagues had been mistreated, and… shit. Yeah, I just remembered the time I was with a bunch of my male colleagues and one of them started talking shit about the secretary (she was a bit… odd – she once suggested we put a stripper pole in the reception area).

            Okay, point taken. Looking back, my last position was definitely the kind of place that articles like these is trying to fight. When we got a new HR person, one of my coworkers remarked, "She should just work from home." I remember being rather uncomfortable by that remark. And as a result of that, I was surprised when the entire company threw in behind the objectors on the violent emotes issue. It was an… interesting dynamic.

          • Hi there. You seem to have somewhat of a reasonable head on your shoulders even if you are perhaps derailed by a backlash from the backlash.

            So perhaps it will seem relevant to you that I notice a certain kind of exceptionalism in your posts. You seem to be saying you are single, hopeless, completely doomed to a girl-less life. Except for the awesome nerdy girl who had no problem finding games to play that you dated. And the woman you married, definitely not counting her. I was particularly surprised by that because you saying you had been through a divorce (for which I am sorry to hear about, by the way) in response to a woman poster who seemed like she was in a symmetrical situation to you?

            You only have to get it right once.

            I would imagine, at my ripe old age of 42 (but not divorced), that thinking you got it right (ie getting married) and then finding out otherwise (ie getting divorced) could have a hellish effect on one's self-esteem vis-a-vis relationships. But that's only one false positive.

            Of course there's no way to know from the few hints you've dropped. But is it possible that this is about approach anxiety, pickiness displaced onto it being the woman deciding not to date you, or not being able to get along with or keep a woman once you've started a relationship?

          • Soledad says:

            "So perhaps it will seem relevant to you that I notice a certain kind of exceptionalism in your posts. You seem to be saying you are single, hopeless, completely doomed to a girl-less life. Except for the awesome nerdy girl who had no problem finding games to play that you dated. And the woman you married, definitely not counting her. I was particularly surprised by that because you saying you had been through a divorce (for which I am sorry to hear about, by the way) in response to a woman poster who seemed like she was in a symmetrical situation to you? "

            Touche? :) You may be right, as Billy Joel once said; I may be crazy. But, here's the thing – and I fully admit I may be wrong on this – I am of the opinion that the woman who dated and/or married me did so not because they wanted me, specifically, but because I was there. My ex-wife had this image built up in her head that she had to be successful businesswoman, with 2.5 kids and the white picket fence, and I wasn't able to give her that. Once that became clear, out I went. The cute nerd girl seemed okay at first, and I admit she probably was attracted to me, but after a month or three she hit me with the ultimatum of "I can't date anyone I won't eventually marry." I told her I couldn't promise her that after three months. She kicked me to the curb. That was six years ago. I've been single ever since.

            My response to that, then, is that even a stopped clock is right twice a day. I don't really consider those good odds.

            Now, all of that said, if anyone wants to further jump on the "Let's fix Soledad" bandwagon, feel free to E-mail me at archhunter@rocketmail.com so we can take this discussion offline. I think we've derailed the good Doctor's topic enough. :)

            * Edited to add;

            "I would imagine, at my ripe old age of 42 (but not divorced), that thinking you got it right (ie getting married) and then finding out otherwise (ie getting divorced) could have a hellish effect on one's self-esteem vis-a-vis relationships. But that's only one false positive. "

            The most painful thing about going through a divorce is that *everyone* I meet assumes I was the one at fault. After all, my wife wouldn't have dumped me if I treated her well, aye? That's not to say I'm totally blameless but it takes two to tango. I did stuff. She did stuff. We ultimately weren't compatible, and it hurt. And then, I became single, and got to listen to trash talk about it. That did not help my self-esteem. Not at all.

        • Well, personally, when I see a woman making generalized statements about how all men are a certain way, I argue with them too, because I don't think generalizations are an accurate way of thinking. But women are less likely to be criticized for it simply because it's men who are in the position of privilege, and it's automatically more offensive for someone with privilege to complain about someone who doesn't than vice versa. Just like a white person complaining about people of other races is going to be criticized whereas a person of color complaining about white people generally won't be. Your privilege gives you plenty of benefits that outweigh women's "privilege" of getting to complain about men.

          And yes, I am now married. I managed to find *one* guy who was interested in me and treated me well. For all you know, I will be divorced when I am your age (if you are indeed that much older than me–I'm 31), in which case our "scores" will be equal. So I'm not sure why you see my position as being so superior to yours.

          I also have a close friend who's the same age as me and never had a serious long term relationship, as much as she'd like to. I have female friends online who are in their thirties, forties, and fifties who have never found the right guy or thought they had and then had him divorce them and haven't dated since. So I'll reiterate–your problem is not a problem because of men vs. women.

          And you know what, feelings can't be wrong. What you feel is what you feel. But the conclusions you draw from those feelings can be wrong. I can feel disrespected or devalued by something someone else does, but that doesn't mean that the other person was necessarily purposely trying to harm me in some way, no matter how strongly I feel it. You feel a certain way and you're drawing the conclusion that the reason you feel that way is because women are putting you in that position. I believe that conclusion is wrong. But I am sorry that you feel shamed and mocked, because that's a crappy way to feel.

          • Mel,

            Sorry if it sounded like I was trying to imply that my "position" was in any way superior to yours. I wasn't. I was just noting that, in my experience (which doesn't count for everyone, of course), the women I talk to who complain about dating, still do more of it than I do, turn away more people in a week than I have express interest in me in a year, and still wind up with someone eventually. Whereas… well, I think a coworker summed it up best when he said to me, "dude – you play guitar. How are you NOT getting girls?"

          • i know you won't read this because this is so many weeks later
            but consider that in our society, generally speaking the social norm is for guys to ask girls out
            that doesn't stop some guys from just getting rejected all the time
            but i think the reason women who complain about relationships also seem to have more relationships is because men are the ones who are generally in control of getting a relationship
            such as the stereotype of asking a girl for her number which has been brought up here in this article/thread
            no one really talks about asking a hot guy for his number
            i know it happens, but it isn't common
            so even though girls with relationship problems may seem to not really have it as bad, that may be an illusion created by the male centeredness of our society

        • One last thought: There are approximately equal percentages of men and women in North America (at very least–most of the rest of the world too, I think). Assuming that approximately equal percentages of both men and women are straight, which seems to be the case, and considering that polyamorous relationships make up only a very small fraction of existing heterosexual relationships: At any given time, almost *exactly* the same number of hetero men are single as hetero women are single, and almost exactly the same number of men are in relationships as women are in relationships. There's a one to one equivalence because each of those relationships includes one man and one woman.

          So how can that possibly work out to meaning that women get to be in relationships so much more often/easier than men? Every time a woman finds that "right man", presumably a man has found his "right woman". It's simple math. (Unless there's one "right man" dating a whole bunch of women at the same time, in which case the relationships are based on deceit and I don't think should really count as women getting what they want–because I doubt they want to be sharing a guy with several others–anyway. ;) )

        • Well, it's not quantity as in iteration but quantity as in saturation: if women had woman-friendly alternatives, they would use them.

          But re: taking your toys away: are you saying that you wouldn't enjoy any of these games, or gaming at all, if you had to play games that weren't misogynist? Or games where women did stuff besides provide fanservice? And dressed like actual warriors? If not, I think this is a false dilemma. There's an alternative to keeping games just as they are or getting rid of all games. It's changing games to discard misogynistic tropes but keeping all the other stuff the same. Would that be acceptable?

          And the rest…I sympathize with you, but this just isn't a complete picture. Nerd::Haters =! Woman::Patriarchy

          Feelings are feelings; they either exist or don't, and aren't always rational. But…you can feel something very strongly and yet be wrong on the facts. If you think that women aren't blamed for being unattractive–according to a much higher standard, unless you've ever bleached your asshole–then you're missing a lot out there. Men constantly complain about women being too fat, too loud, too humorless, too ugly, too unkempt, too sexless, too silly, too human to deserve male attention. That hasn't gone out of vogue at all. All women must work for male approval. And bleach their assholes.

          This incident resulted in backlash, but most of it doesn't even get talked about. It's just the air we breathe. I hear nerdy men complain about being labeled hairy, unwashed slobs, and I sympathize, but…you do understand that that's a woman's assumed default state, right? Hairy, unwashed, and sloppy is what woman means to a lot of people, and the idea that women who resist that or complain about that are cheered…no. Sorry, but that's not true.

          • Soledad says:

            "are you saying that you wouldn't enjoy any of these games, or gaming at all, if you had to play games that weren't misogynist?"

            No, I'm not saying that – and I think I didn't express myself clearly enough the first time because I didn't say I felt like *my* toys were being taken away, I said I understood why guys who felt that way, did. My bad. But to answer the question, yes, I would still enjoy gaming. I want fully fleshed out characters of both genders. I don't mean to keep fanboying over Bioware, but when I found out my shuttle pilot was gay in ME3, I was like, "oh. Cool." And I felt bad for the guy, because he lost his husband in a Reaper attack.

            And on that note, I feel that I enjoy games of all stripes, and I honestly have no problem with discarding sexist tropes. They have their place (in parody, et. al) and can be done well (I hear Lollipop Chainsaw is pretty good, from my female gamer friends – I'd buy a copy myself but I'm broke at the mo'), but I do feel that there's no shortage of that stuff so I won't complain if people focus on things for a while. As I've said previously, I probably have a skewed image of the situation because I *don't* play the kinds of games that keep getting brought up as representative of the problem. Bioware, I think, really doesn't get enough credit for Mass Effect – but I've heard people criticize it just as hard. Hence my confusion.

            re: dating. I don't think women don't get blamed for stuff. I think both genders have it hard. I'm just sitting at a point now where I've done everything the good Doctor's suggested, everything all of my friends have suggested, every avenue possible, and still come up empty. But if I admit that okay, I'm probably just not that attractive and should get on with my life, I get labelled as having poor self-image. And then my female friends keep posting links to sites like this one (it's how I wound up here) reiterating how nerds are sweaty neckbeards that need to get a life. And I say to myself, "Is this how you really see me?" And they say, "No." Then I ask them who exactly they're posting this stuff for. They never can answer that.

          • I wrote out this whole long response that I think got eaten.

            I'm leaving the stuff on video games to the exceedingly articulate and reasoned debate that I see going on here, but I just wanted to comment on the dating thing, because I think it's important. You've set up a false dichotomy for yourself: I must be mated, or I must be horrible. Here are just a few of the other things it could be:
            You could be awesome, but also….
            – aiming too high.
            – aiming too low. (very difficult to have a stable long-term relationship with someone who can't keep up with you.)
            – self-sabotaging unconsciously, so you can keep others at a distance.
            – in the possession of some habits that kick you in the ass that only reveal themselves after a few dates.
            – broadcasting bitterness.
            – hanging out with completely the wrong people to meet the people you want.
            – unclear on who it is you want, or simply wrong about what will work for you.
            – wrong about the signs/signals that mean someone has the qualities you want.
            – holding out for someone who is exceedingly low-incidence.

            That last one was really my problem; I was so flexible about everything else that for years my friends and I simply could not see that I was insisting on two things that were practically impossible to find. I'm 42, and I just got engaged last month. Even awesome people sometimes fall through the cracks.

            Just hang in there, and keep trying to figure it out. You never know.

    • amoebae says:

      You're making it sound like the reason to let women into gaming communities is so everyone can get a date. That's not how it works. I understand that the media – of all types – uses images of aspiration (be it sexy people, nice cars, affluent lifestyles, whatever) to sell their products that this has an effect on how we see the world around us, and on our expectations. But there is a difference between recognising that the media plays on our desires to sell us stuff, and expecting people to fulfil a role for our benefit when it may not be a role they are comfortable with.

      When I had a subscription for SW:TOR for the couple of months after its release, I used a gendered pronoun when referring to myself in the general chat. I was immediately met with lots of replies ranging from ridiculously childish to somewhat desperate, all of which included some reference to my gender. I suppose I expected it. And I wasn't about to censor who I was or what I am to avoid other people being idiots. They are the ones with the problem after all, not me. And yet, it illustrated for me how difficult it is to just be "a gamer," because I'm not. I'm a "female" gamer. The men playing the game that day on my server weren't "male" gamers. They were just gamers. That's one of the imbalances people like me want to redress. It doesn't matter how many companies try to sell you products using a picture of a sexy woman on the cover, or how many Felicia Days become successful, I can still ask to be treated with fairness, to be treated as a person instead of a gender, and to not be marginalised or treated as though my body is a battleground.

      For sure, the producers of this content, the advertisers, the writers, developers, and so on, all have a responsibility to create products that don't cast women as mere objects to be consumed. But while we're all waiting for that to happen, men playing these games have a role too. It's not a one-way street; producers create and perpetuate certain climates, images and continue the acceptability of this kind of unequal behaviour, but the audience, the consumers of these products, are responsible for how they react to it. Marketing manipulates all of us, but we retain our agency, we can decide what we do with that.

      And no, this isn't about trying to stop there being sexy women in video games. Because sexy women are sexy. Sexy men are sexy. Sex is sexy, yay! It's the function these images play. When a sexy woman is present in a video game, she's there to stimulate men. She's interchangeable, for the most part. She could be anybody with a cleavage, a sultry look, a great butt, whatever. She wouldn't be there if she wasn't in some way aesthetically pleasing to male gamers. If we were starting from a level playing field, whereby men and women were equally catered for in video games – in the *same* video games – and characters with interesting stories to tell could be male or female, and the marginal love interest could be male or female, and the protagonist had as much chance of being female as it did male, then you'd be perfectly justified in being upset if all of a sudden women said they didn't want there to be any sexy women in video games while keeping sexy men in there (I am aware, by the way, of the awful hetero- and cis-normativity contained in this debate, and that's another discussion worth having too) . But that level playing field doesn't exist, and when there are female characters in games, more often than not they are merely fulfilling the role of 'object of sexual desire.' So when we talk about examining the role of women in video games, it's because we want to talk about why women always have to be portrayed in that way. It's because we'd like to try to edge toward that level playing field where everyone can be represented, where everyone can feel included, feel welcome, and not feel like someone else has the right to define what their body, and very existence, is for.

      • Soledad says:

        "You're making it sound like the reason to let women into gaming communities is so everyone can get a date. That's not how it works."

        Yeah, I think I expressed that badly. I'm having a hard time putting it into words, really. I'll try again.

        While it's true that gender relations in gaming is not simply to help people get a date (despite that being the focus of this blog), one of the things that contributes to Nerd Rage is the conflicting message that simultaneously states that you should find these people attractive, and we're going to keep marketing to you as such, but you're not allowed to actually try to date them, because you're still a nerd and they're out of your league. Or, on a vastly over-simplified level, "welcome me as one of your own, even though I don't want to have anything to do with you."

        Granted, this has absolutely *nothing* to do with a woman's right to play an online game without being harassed. I was just commenting on a dichotomy that I don't really like.

        On "sexy" – okay, so how do you propose we fix that? It seems to me like you have to get around two assumptions – one, that sexy female characters are there to appeal to men, and two, that characters have an "equal" chance of being whatever. I think it's nearly impossible to present a female character as sexy such that they can't be accused of solely being there to appeal to male gamers, because that's what everyone assumes. And, how do you define "equal chance"? Does the designer flip a coin when they decide what gender the hero/ine is going to be? Whatever choice they make, you can accuse them of making it for the wrong reasons, and they can't prove you wrong because it'll require telepathy.

        Maybe it's just the games I play. I don't know. I was really surprised to hear people had problems with Mass Effect. I thought the way it portrayed people of different types was great.

        • djTeslaRose says:

          "Or, on a vastly over-simplified level, "welcome me as one of your own, even though I don't want to have anything to do with you." "

          Let me see if I can put it another way from a female point of view.

          Girls want to be welcomed into the "club" of gamers, and other nerdastic pursuits, but we also want to feel safe in the environment as well. When we feel that the men of that environment are viewing us as sexual objects, then there is a certain level of apprehension that can cross over to fear fairly easily. So it becomes not "I don't want anything to do with you" but "I am predominantly being approached by unwanted sexual advances so i'm going to keep you all away" and that can be annoying at best and scary at worst. I have a feeling a lot of gamer/nerd girls want to be friends with the guys in her interests, but is only met with "Please date me, sleep with me, make out with me, etc". It makes is hard to not be on the defensive all the time.

          As for the portrayal of women in video games, I don't really game so I will instead discuss comics and scifi (more my forte). Let me give you the examples of the female characters in Firefly. Zoe is sensibly dressed for her job, but still sexy as hell. Her being covered doesn't make her less sexy. She has a backstory, a love story, and a very important role in the plotline. She is sexy but not a sexual object. In contrast, Inara could very easily be considered a sexual object based on her profession and more often revealing dress. But what keeps her in the "sexy/sensual" side and not the sexual object side is her backstory, her involvement in the plot, and her very clear ownership of her relationship decisions. She is not a prize to be won by Mal but instead a full human being to be understood and to try to find an equal partnership with.

          What women have an issue with for video games is the unrealistic portrayal of women's bodies and clothing. Tiny waists, huge boobs, and disproportionate (and often physically impossible) body parts turn women from characters to fetishized objects. Combine that with often little importance in the storyline and being the prize won at the end (even Mario with his Princess), and you have unrealistic sexual fantasies on the screen, not kickass women characters. It's kind of like PlayBoy vs. National Geographic. PlayBoy is naked women portrayed in ways designed to stimulated men, often women of very specific proportions, and nowadays, often surgically enhanced. Naked women in National Geographic is usually part of a study of a particular culture. Both sets of women are naked, but the context of their nudity is what makes the difference.

          To close you eyes and ears to context is self-blinding. The answer probably isn't to try to even up things from the past or take away what's already out there, but instead to try to be more fair and even handed going forward and making space for female gamers/nerds where she can pursue her interests in an environment where she doesn't feel threatened or objectified by her fellow gamers/nerds.

          • Soledad says:

            "Let me see if I can put it another way from a female point of view. "

            Understood, and I fully agree with both of your points. I don't fault women for being defensive at all, and the media situation I describe isn't their fault at all. All I was getting at was, as the Doc has noted in past articles, nerds get a double dose of "this is what you want"/"you can't have her because you're pathetic" from the media. The less-enlightened ones get angry. And, they lash out at the women involved, not the media companies themselves (kinda like how when I was a teacher, my students got mad at me, not the college, for policy changes). My reaction to Aisha Tyler's thing about being a real gamer was, "So? Good for you. I'm never going to meet you in real life, why should I care what you do with your spare time?" – but I guess she felt she had to validate herself because nerds are constantly being presented with daft models who can't spell 'PS3' and told "she's a gamer!" because marketing companies want their money, and assume she was just saying it to be trendy and sell more records or something. I think on some level they know this, and find it insulting. But that's a separate issue.

            I'm also with you on context. I totally get all of that. It's never been a question. I just keep wondering how we're going to solve this problem. Making more games with appealing characters that aren't balloons on a stick is definitely the way to go, but in the back of my head I find myself asking, as I think I did a ways upthread, whether or not it will be possible to present sexy characters that everyone will agree on not being exploitative. That will remain to be seen, I suppose.

          • I don't think it's even possible to make a sexy character that every single person will find acceptable. With a bazillion different people, there'll always be those that interpret what you do as offensive. I think the best we can hope for is to move ahead as described and not try and please every single extreme case (there are people with extreme attitudes on both sides of the debate you'd probably never satisfy no matter what you do). The people with the more moderate views need to stand up and say "Come on, Mass Effect isn't sexist, that IS an overreaction" or whatever the case may be.

    • If I'm understanding your argument, you're say that it's not fair that guy gamers get grief for complaining about girl gamers, but girl gamers get praise for complaining about guys. Okay.

      But your example of a 'guy gamer complaining about a girl gamer' is 'hey, hot female celebrities say they like the things I like but if I try to approach them, they won't go out with me.'

      And the example in this article of 'girl gamer complaining about guy gamers' is about a woman receiving a barrage of violent threats, including rape and physical assault.

      You see that these complaints are not on the same level at all, right? THAT's why people sympathize with 'girls complaining about guy gamers' because the threat is to our actual physical safety. Whereas in your complaint, the 'threat' is that you won't get a date with a famous person.

      Imagine that you lived across from a drug house and every time you went outside there were ten scary guys across the street threatening to mug you, kill you, beat you up just for looking at them the wrong way. And then when you told me about it I said, "Well, I was the only person who didn't get a cupcake at work today, so why are you complaining?"

      • Soledad says:

        Okay, before I begin, I just want to make clear that IN NO WAY does anything I've been saying attempt to rationalize, justify, or support any of the threats Anita & co. have been getting. I fully support the idea that she (if she isn't already) get law enforcement involved, because "this is the Internet" is not a valid excuse for threatening someone's life. More people need to be forcefully made an example of in that regard. Trolls need to be treated seriously, IMHO.

        I also don't feel that there is any equivalence at all between the kinds of things I've been talking about and a woman's physical safety. At all. I, personally, understand that a woman's right to feel safe trumps my right to talk to her. Just because I feel bad at the messages I get about wanting to talk to her sometimes doesn't mean I'm trying to imply that she should forgo personal safety just for my desires.

        On the other hand…

        "But your example of a 'guy gamer complaining about a girl gamer' is 'hey, hot female celebrities say they like the things I like but if I try to approach them, they won't go out with me.' "

        I don't think I'd consider than an example of guy gamers complaining about girl gamers. I would consider it an example of the kind of 'background radiation' that nerds get, that most of us either tune out or accept as an artifact of our culture. By itself, it's not a big deal. Couple it with everything else? It's not a threat. It's a negative atmosphere that erodes our self-esteem.

        The reason I brought it up is to observe that there are aspects of our(nerd) culture that are not healthy. Most of us are reasonable about it. Some of us, however – and again, let me be clear that these people need professional help – internalize it until they snap. It's not right, but I can see where it comes from.

        "You see that these complaints are not on the same level at all, right?"

        Absolutely.

        "THAT's why people sympathize with 'girls complaining about guy gamers' because the threat is to our actual physical safety. Whereas in your complaint, the 'threat' is that you won't get a date with a famous person. "

        Again, I don't feel that there is a "threat" to male gamers. On the other hand, I often get the feeling that every time we complain about something we don't like, it gets trivialized. To wit;

        "Well, I was the only person who didn't get a cupcake at work today, so why are you complaining?"

        I've been verbally abused by women before. Not often, but occasionally it happens. It's pretty safe to say that when it does happen, I don't like it and don't want it to happen again. When I say to anyone, however, "Hey, you know, I don't like being verbally berated…", the response is quite often something along the lines of what you posted above. Not wanting to be verbally abused is considered the equivalent of not getting a cupcake and I should just suck it up because someone else may be killed.

        Like I said, I get that they're not the same things, but it doesn't make me any happier about the fact that my feelings were just trivialized. And faced with a similar response, I can see how someone else might get angry. And turn their feelings inward. And five years later, they're screaming death threats at someone on the Internet. You're seeing the irrational end result, not everything leading up to it.

        But, again – that does not justify it. At all.

  18. Until reading this article, the most I knew about this was that there was a game called Beat Up Anita Sarkeesian, and I figured that it was probably just another one of those "Throw Shit at Justin Bieber"-type games that crop up from time to time and this Anita Sarkeesian person was just another fresh celebrity face that was cool to hate, so I just went "Not gonna bother with this game since it's probably shit. Let's see what else is here."

    So, now that I know what it's all about … I am speechless.

    • Speechless is the opposite of what we need you to be, Robert. I truly believe the more men who speak out, the faster this issue can get fixed.

      • When I said I was speechless, I meant in a stunned silence kind of way – though to be honest, with how long I've been on this big ol' internet of ours and the kinds of things I have seen and done in my time here, I shouldn't really be stunned by anything any more.

        Still, I do have one thing to say to anyone who doesn't believe that there is as much sexism in online gaming as people say. Depending on the game and, in particular, how you communicate with other players, try making another account on which you pretend to be a woman (and don't reveal who/what you really are). You might just be surprised at the messages you get. I know I was.

  19. Boonekamp says:

    I tried to talk with readers and bloggers of (german) feminist blogs about sexism in general. I hopefully didn’t insult anyone, but i noticed that some of the these folks are very stubborn, hateful & ideological.

    If i asked a question or didn’t agree with some stuff they said, i was called a troll or got banned right away. On some occasions i was even called a nazi, a masculist, a privilege denieing dude etc. and other insults.

    Now, i believe that hateful nerds are the one end of the spectrum. The other end are ideological motivated feminists who mistake feminism as some kind of psychotherapy.

    The angry male nerds and the gynocentrist feminists are not interested in a dialogue.

    Conclusion: Assholes are assholes no matter what gender they are.

    • Feathers McGraw says:

      It's funny how you needed to make this discussion about you and your horrible experiences. This has nothing to do with you or German feminists. And the fact that some German feminist ladies were mean to you doesn't make this okay, better or understandable. They didn't come to your blog and threaten to beat you up.

      Conclusion: These experiences are not equivalent.

      • Soledad says:

        While these experiences are not equivalent, I also think there's some underlying theme of "I can't make you see my point of view, so I'm just going to lash out unconstructively."

        That the response to such a notion is often, "Well of course, because YOUR POINT OF VIEW IS WRONG!", which just dumps more fuel on the fire.

        It seems to me that all of the people who could discuss this reasonably know better than to get involved, because no one is interested in dialogue. They just want to force the other side to agree with them. So, that just leaves the assholes on both sides screaming at one another.

    • amoebae says:

      Assholes are assholes, yes. But what about the debate in hand?

  20. I had no idea this was happening.

    Great, now I feel sick for being a part of this community. I can only hope that the women who saw this happen aren’t completely turned off from the geek community.

    • Hey Alex! Certainly I can't speak for the geek community in its entirety, but THIS lady-geek isn't going anywhere, and I've not seen any of my female friends on Twitter, Tumblr, etc planning on doing so either. It IS getting us riled up, but only what I can characterize as a positive manner.

      Again, speaking only to the people I follow on Twitter, I've not seen a single woman rage against the male-geek machine as a whole and dismissively define all of them as evil, misogynistic jerks. (They would have been rapidly unfollowed, had they done so.) But by bringing awareness of this issue to other women – and perhaps more importantly, to male friends within the community – we're opening up dialogues about what women often have to endure simply as a result of being confident, outspoken individuals. Getting the word out there and liberating us from quietly dealing with misogyny – no matter where we encounter it – can only be a good thing, IMHO.

    • Alex, I’ve been reading about Anita and other examples of misogyny in geek culture and interacting with some of the players for Weeks, and I can only tell you that I am cmpletely turned off to geeks and gamers right now. Seeing the kind of vitriol, threats, sickens me. I’m disgusted and ashamed to be associated with these people. To people outside the genre, I have to convince them that this activity is cutting edge and important. To people inside, I have to justify my existence. I now have to fight my own despair at this ugliness to stand up for gaming? No. I won’t. I can’t. Not right now.
      I was watching tv last night. A game show. One of the contestants? A geek guy. I found myself feeling happy he lost where I once would have rooted for him as one of my kind.
      I have no doubt I will enjoy my pastime again, eventhough I will be even more wary of interactions I have with other gamers. I will support gamers again. I know it will be with a seed of doubt in my mind about whether it’s worth it. But I will.
      But not now. That’s what this stuff does. It turns your allies against you.

  21. Some of you who are bemoaning the fact that this kind of reaction drives women away from geek culture, thus reducing your odds of finding a girl…and I'm looking at you as much as anyone else, NerdLove. I'm not saying this is all of you here, but anyone who is opposing sexism solely to increase their odds of getting laid is missing the point in a big way. It's like this: You don't fight bigotry and hate because there's some reward for you in it. You can't make it dependent on any kind of payback. You fight it because the shit is WRONG, end of story. You have to go into it with the expectation that you may never get so much as a thank you for your efforts.

    • Mike, did you skim past the first three paragraphs of this post, where the good Doc addressed those criticisms directly?

      While I agree that SOME dudes are likely to advocate for women's rights because it *might* lead to women being more amenable to dating them, I'd imagine (hope?) that it's the exception and not the rule.

      • I think it deserves the underscore. In NerdLove's first Nerds and Male Privilege column he frankly stated that he would "…provide you with some concrete applications on how being cognizant of male privilege will improve your relations with women." The implication is obvious, and bluntly backed up by the overall purpose of his blog.

        • I've actually find this blog to be more about growing as a person, and stepping out of the stereotypes that seem to pervade nerd culture, rather than simply learning how to get a girl.

          The getting a girl is kind of just the hook that nerds open wide for when stumbling across the blog.

          And… it kinds of makes sense… that… growing as a person… will lead to higher appeal to others, be they women, or men, or… I don't know, the asgard fleet, doesn't it?

          And if an individual grows as a person… does it matter if they started on that path with superficial, even selfish, intentions? By the end, they're not that person anymore.

        • Not all relations between sexes are sex-related. Sometimes I like to think (crazy, I know) that being friends with those of the opposite sex could be pretty rewarding too.

          And yeah, being more aware of privilege will improve your relations with women. I, for one, really prefer men who have an awareness of the world they live in.

          • My point still stands. Some dudes are going to interpret this whole thing as "so if I do all this, I'll get laid!" I hope this is a minority of dudes, but I guarantee they're out there.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Some dudes will react with vitriol at the suggestion that women should be portrayed differently in video games. That doesn't mean it shouldn't be said.

    • It's more like "not only is this stuff wrong and awful, but you are fighting against changes that could very possibly make your life better." There can be multiple reasons to do the right thing.

    • I’m with you, Mike. It needs to be said more often. You do it because it’s the right thing to do. You shouldn’t need any more motivation. Granted, all of us need an extra nudge in the right direction sometimes. Even if it’s a bit of selfish motivation. Myself included.

  22. Unknown Gwy says:

    Hm, doesn't more females playing video games = more money made in the gaming industry?

    What's so bad about that, haters? Come on, they make up 1/2 of the world population, and if video gaming is ALL about guys it's gonna end up becoming dull someday.
    Come on, what kind of nerds don't want girlfriends that actually play video games WITH them, and that the gfs won't get mad because they're playing as well? It makes complete sense, I would say.

    • Yes, exactly! And that goes both ways; it's far preferable to date a dude who's into gaming – that way, he won't give me grief when I decide that it would be super-fun to play Mass Effect 2 six times in a row. … Er, y'know. In theory. ;)

  23. Seriously nerds, this is absolute BULLSHIT. This type of behavior is totally unacceptable. We want to be taken serious rather than mocked by the mainstream, and yet it’s shit like this that makes it even more difficult. We take one step forward and six steps back everytime some insecure asshats do shit like this. If you play videogames, then that makes you a gamer. Regarless of gender, console, or genre of games. We are supposed to help and embrace eachother, not fuck things up for ALL (Men and Women) of us. Just because someone (Ms. Sarkeesian in this case) may have an opinion about our culture that differs from your own DOES NOT give you grounds to threaten the life and/or saftey of that person. For a group of people that is supposed to be “intellectually superior”, we act alot like spoiled bratty children in need of an ass whoopin. Grow the fuck up.

  24. Not enjoying this new comment system… Seems bulky and overindulgent on interconnectivity. =/

    Anyway, I hadn't heard about any of this.

    I like hot women. I like video games. I like hot women in video games.

    I agree that the portrayal isn't the greatest and if people want to make video games that have other types of women in them, they're more than welcome to. But I'll still want attractive women in the games I play. -shrug-

    I honestly don't see what the big deal is. Haters gonna hate. Ignore them, report them to the police, that's the correct response, good job. I might check out that webseries once it's made.

    • BertieW says:

      "I agree that the portrayal isn't the greatest."

      No you don't. Your entire comment pretty much reeks of "Shut the hell up and get over it." You might as well own it, and not throw meaningless sops in.

      • Projecting much?

        I don't think that this is such a big deal. Serious, yes, almost deathly so with that other guy tweeting death threats. But a big deal? So much so that the entire internet needs to know about it? Not so much. Something can be serious without being a big deal.

        Personality-wise, I think portrayal of women has been pretty good in some games. But yeah, other than 'overweight aunt' or 'elderly crone' or 'young girl' I can't remember the last time I've seen a woman in a game that didn't try to be attractive. Then again, all the men are buffed up superheroes too, so.

        People are entitled to their opinion. Unlike the haters or the trolls, in no way am I calling for people who disagree with me to 'shut up.' That's where you're projecting, because I'm pretty much doing the opposite of that if you'd actually read what I wrote.

        • You're missing the point. No one wants to take away attractive female characters in games. They want them to be something besides a digital blow-up doll. Basically, the difference between a female warrior dressing like http://studio930.com/jetrefilm_photography/grace_… (please ignore that Grace Holley has neglected to don maille to protect her arm joints) or like this http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-Fe2sRl9Fjzs/TmZPC8A1sUI

          Both are attractive women (or at least meet general definitions of attractive). However, I hope you can see the difference in the portrayal.

          • Indeed, I think 'bikini plate armor' is silly. But it doesn't mean that I hate those games and want to play games without it. I don't mind it.

            Take Skyrim for instance. The portrayal there is much more like your first example. For the short bit that I played the game, I downloaded a mod that made the female outfits more skimpy. -shrug- I didn't play the game very long for a variety of reasons. But obviously anyone who doesn't want those mods doesn't have to get them. What's next, porn? Are feminists going to fight the portrayal of women in porn, now?

            Again, it all goes back to the fact that this isn't zero sum. I like what I like, you like what you like, and we can both be happy. I can agree that there aren't many games in the portrayal you want while also saying that the portrayal you want isn't the portrayal I want. Just like I should not be threatened by your attitude and desires, why should you be threatened by mine? Because for some reason, simply stating my opinion/desires seems to get the response as if I'm attacking those who don't agree with me. -eyeroll-

    • I like hot men. I like video games. I like hot men in video games.

      This portrayal isn't the greatest, but making videogames with horrible male stereotype will prove to be difficult in an industry that is so very male-dominate and so very very unwelcoming of women. You should listen to the few stories that are out there of women who have managed to reach the 'top', but had to go through so much sexist shit in the meantime. Trust me, men don't have to put up with that (not saying it's always easy).

      But, I'll still want attractive men in the games I play *shrug*

      I don't see what the big deal is. Haters are going to harass and do anything to makes sure I shut up about my oh so very terrible opinion as a female human being.

      But, hot men, okay? Hot men, almost naked, prancing around on my screen, void of personality, full of ridiculous ideals that no one in existence can reach. Hot, hot men. It's important that you know I'm attracted to attractive men. Very attracted. I need this in every aspect of my life. Please, If you ever decide to counter my arguments, think of the fact that I am sexually attracted to hot men, it's so very relevant.

      (do you have any idea how dismissive you sound by repeating the same old 'but I do want hot women, capice?' after you *almost* manage to recognize the problem that we're dealing with. That's why I copied the way you speak, it so freaking dismissive and really makes your point so void I don't even get what you're saying anymore.)

      • Have hot men all you want. Like the Doc said, it's not zero sum. That's my point. You have your games, I'll have mine.

        What I don't want to see (but also don't expect to see) is that all games stop having hot women in them. Some still will. And that's fine. Not every game has to have hot women. But I'll still like/prefer the ones that do, and that's my right to personal choice.

    • x_Sanguine_8 says:

      There's a difference between "haters gonna hate" and outright oppression (which is what this article is about). and I find indifference to this oppression… disturbing. Seriously, your lack of empathy is really freaky (dare I say… creepy?). If you truly give a damn about women, then you should care about the severe oppression of them, especially if it's by members of your own community.

      it's funny, really: guys like to see themselves as the protectors of women; I've seen them talk about how they'd throw themselves on a grenade for their girl, take on attackers, face great dangers for them. Why is it then, when real dangers appear and assail women, that so many men disappear?

      • What oppression? I don't see any oppression here. I see /attempted/ oppression, which completely failed. Not only did she make her original goal but she went 2667% above goal. That's like the opposite of oppression. I do, however, see some hate, but that's been dealt with.

        There's a certain level of 'just ignore it' when it applies to bullies. What they want is attention. What they need is a jail cell (at this level of extreme.) Once they get their jail cell or are otherwise dealt with, any attention beyond that is attention they don't deserve. You don't ignore them so much that you don't deal with them, but once dealt with, that's when it's over.

        Where's the grenade to throw myself on? If I had seen that app I would've reported it, but I didn't see it. If I saw the death threats I would've reported those too, but I didn't.

        I do think this is rather extreme for them to have gone to, but is an extreme of something that happens every day, trolling and flaming.

        I saw a comment somewhere up the page when I was skimming comments about how they expected this 'beat someone up' app to be related to some celebrity, like an app beating up Justin Bieber. Say what? Justin Bieber deserves violence, but women don't? Nobody deserves violence. But, Justin Bieber violence is somehow 'okay' because it's common.

        This is where I get the 'haters gonna hate.' It sucks that it's common, but it doesn't change the fact that it IS common. Do something, especially something important, and somewhere, somehow, someone on the internet is going to hate you for it. That's just the way it is. Dwelling on it only exacerbates the problem. What matters is how you handle it when it happens, how you deal with it.

        In this case, though, I don't even need to say 'deal with it' because they already have: The twitter accounts are shut down, reported to police, the app's taken down, all that's been done. It HAS been dealt with. Next is the move on step. And because what the haters really want more than anything is attention, my inclination is, now that it's been dealt with, it needs no more attention from me whatsoever. Hence the "indifference" which is not indifference so much as lack of attention. I still think what they did was horrible, but talking about how horrible it was defeats the purpose, in my view. This is also why I think dwelling on it or making a "big deal" out of it is the wrong stance to take. Reporting it, yes, so others know not to do it and/or learn what went down, but sensationalizing it, not necessary.

        So, assuming you're not going to dwell on the hate that occurred, that just leaves the subject matter as if there had never been any hate. It is, however, another topic I'm also indifferent to. Want hot men in your video games? Go right ahead. Want non-supermodel and/or realistic women in your video games? Awesome. Not something I'm interested in, but I don't get veto power over every video game ever made. I don't have to like every video game (and trust me there's plenty that I don't.) Does that mean nobody will like them or that they shouldn't be made? Of course not. I actually support more societies/cultures getting involved with video games, I think they make an awesome form of media. It's just not my personal taste. This again boils down to the 'not a zero sum' thing. I can like hot women in video games without being 'threatened' by someone else not wanting hot women in theirs. This points (perhaps too subtly for people to notice) towards my stance that the 'haters' in this case are complete idiots, which makes the hate they did even stupider than the fact that they hated at all. But the world's full of stupid people, so what can you do? Deal with/ignore it, and move on, like I said in my first post.

        Yes, I feel sorry for her, and if I had any money I'd donate some, even if she is already $160k overfunded; both out of empathy/pity, but also because I think it is a cool concept and again the more people interested in video games (even ones I don't like), the better, in my opinion. But again, I don't see a grenade to throw myself on here, except to dwell. And dwelling on negatives past the point of resolution is something I try not to do, because I'm already negative enough as it is.

        If you think simply giving enough 'due attention' to the subject of hating is a lack of empathy, I assure you it is not. It's a lack of power to do anything much more than devoid the haters of the attention they seek.

        • Hi James –

          I think that in your head, an ideal world is equal. And I wonder if perhaps in your head it's already the ideal world in that sense, or maybe you have a 'fake it till you make it' attitude towards equality.

          There are two people who already near the top of the comments thread who wrote so gracefully and movingly about the basic fact that:
          – We live in a male-dominant society
          – Because <insert marginalized group> is marginal, their voices are not going to be heard in the same way
          – Therefore we need <insert dominant group> to stand up and use Frown Power to support the side of those who are being treated badly
          and
          – this is important and not just a words-only game.

          I suspect you might not agree with that last point from the previous conversations we've had? But I hope you might acknowledge that the people on the receiving end of the words (ie, those in a position to feel the most damage) might have a different position, and since alternate positions are worthy of respect, maybe you would be willing to acknowledge those emotions.

          It's more than just words. For a lot of women it's scary and demeaning and limiting, and self-limiting, and leads them to have ideas about themselves that are negative and wrong. The more anyone outside the situation (man/woman/neuter, independent of race or socioeconomic position or whatever) stands up and supports what is obviously making a lot of people unhappy, maybe the less it will mean and the more it might match an ideal.

          • 'Fake it til you make it' attitude of equality? lol

            How is that different from…actual equality? What's 'fake' equality? I assure you my equality is sincere.

            When people see a neutral stance as a threat… Then I begin to worry they're not thinking clearly.

            It's like victim blaming. You don't blame the victim, but that doesn't mean that the victim should continue being a victim, either. There is some responsibility on the victim to deal with it and heal…after all, no matter how sorry we are for the victim, nobody can heal FOR them. They have to heal on their own. Everyone heals in their own time and in their own way…but there ARE victims who choose to stay the victim and keep themselves in that role, and those lose my sympathy.

            Of course that's not the case here. In this case, based on the reactions of the 'victims', ie, the twitter accounts have been suspended, the app taken down, the guy reported to the police… Sounds like the 'victims' in this case /have/ dealt with it and moved on. In this case not only does she have my sympathy, but also my respect.

            There reaches a point where continuing to sensationalize the issue keeps the victim a victim instead of a person. I will reach out a hand to help a victim when I can: If I had seen the app, I'd report it, etc. No help is needed anymore. Now I'm back to treating this person as a person and not a victim. She gets the decency and respect I'd show anyone else, plus the respect I have for her for dealing with all that she's had to deal with. Hence I'm not attacking her, I'm not even completely disagreeing with her, I'm just not interested in what she's interested in and why not be honest about that?

            Besides, getting the subject back where she wanted it originally is another sign of respect to her wishes anyway. She didn't start a kickstarter hoping to get slammed by haters. Ignoring the issue she chose to talk about to instead focus on how much of a victim she is… Is that something YOU would want if you were a victim? So I'm going to treat her like anyone else, which means yes, like an equal. Are you saying I should treat her special? Are you saying victims are "more equal" than others? Because she is a victim, I must throw myself on a grenade that isn't there?

            The mental picture that comes to mind is a knight riding up in full armor while the princess is playing xbox with the corpse of a dragon in the background and says "sorry knight, your dragon is in another castle." There's no dragon to slay here. It's done, it's over with.

            Between one side arguing that I should be more what they want 'throwing myself on a grenade' and one side arguing that I should hate her /because/ I'm supposed to treat her special and throw myself on grenades for her, I choose the middle ground. I'm just going to treat her like I would anyone else. With helpful respect, and there's not much I can do to be helpful from here, so just respect basically.

            If either side chooses to see my 'neutrality' as a threat, then I'm pretty sure they're just projecting. =/

  25. Paul Rivers says:

    I'm confused about something in this post. In the beginning it says –

    "1…Relationship quality is correlated with each party’s conviction that their partner is better looking than they are (even if it’s not true)."

    But then later it says –

    "7. Marriages work best when the woman is hotter than the man."

    Was #1 meant to be "attractive" and not "better looking"? A little confused…they can't both be better looking than the other, and the woman be hotter than the man, it would seem like…

  26. Bruce McGlory says:

    “Now, nerd guys are still guys; they want sex. They want love. They want relationships.”

    If that true (which, to be clear, I’m not disagreeing with), then WHY do they erupt into psychotic hate spurting rage whenever a woman tries to clue them in to what not to do?

    “Guys, don’t do that” anyone?

    If a woman is trying to help them, why do they unleash the misogyny beast on her too?

    NO ONE is “owed” a relationship with someone else. NO ONE is “owed” sex. That means, you have to BE the sort of person that others might like to be around. Screaming “bitchcunthwhoreslut” and threatening to rape them to death accomplishes that how, exactly?

    Now, I’m going to slightly recant what I just said. I’m not sure ALL of them actually do want a relationship, love, sex, etc. Some of them, at least, seem to prefer staying in their bitter angry hateful little worlds instead. Which is tragic. Seriously.

  27. 'Fake it til you make it' attitude of equality? lol

    How is that different from…actual equality? What's 'fake' equality? I assure you my equality is sincere.

    When people see a neutral stance as a threat… Then I begin to worry they're not thinking clearly.

    It's like victim blaming. You don't blame the victim, but that doesn't mean that the victim should continue being a victim, either. There is some responsibility on the victim to deal with it and heal…after all, no matter how sorry we are for the victim, nobody can heal FOR them. They have to heal on their own. Everyone heals in their own time and in their own way…but there ARE victims who choose to stay the victim and keep themselves in that role, and those lose my sympathy.

    Of course that's not the case here. In this case, based on the reactions of the 'victims', ie, the twitter accounts have been suspended, the app taken down, the guy reported to the police… Sounds like the 'victims' in this case /have/ dealt with it and moved on. In this case not only does she have my sympathy, but also my respect.

    There reaches a point where continuing to sensationalize the issue keeps the victim a victim instead of a person. I will reach out a hand to help a victim when I can: If I had seen the app, I'd report it, etc. No help is needed anymore. Now I'm back to treating this person as a person and not a victim. She gets the decency and respect I'd show anyone else, plus the respect I have for her for dealing with all that she's had to deal with. Hence I'm not attacking her, I'm not even completely disagreeing with her, I'm just not interested in what she's interested in and why not be honest about that?

    Besides, getting the subject back where she wanted it originally is another sign of respect to her wishes anyway. She didn't start a kickstarter hoping to get slammed by haters. Ignoring the issue she chose to talk about to instead focus on how much of a victim she is… Is that something YOU would want if you were a victim? So I'm going to treat her like anyone else, which means yes, like an equal. Are you saying I should treat her special? Are you saying victims are "more equal" than others? Because she is a victim, I must throw myself on a grenade that isn't there?

    The mental picture that comes to mind is a knight riding up in full armor while the princess is playing xbox with the corpse of a dragon in the background and says "sorry knight, your dragon is in another castle." There's no dragon to slay here. It's done, it's over with.

    Between one side arguing that I should be more what they want 'throwing myself on a grenade' and one side arguing that I should hate her /because/ I'm supposed to treat her special and throw myself on grenades for her, I choose the middle ground. I'm just going to treat her like I would anyone else. With helpful respect, and there's not much I can do to be helpful from here, so just respect basically.

    If either side chooses to see my 'neutrality' as a threat, then I'm pretty sure they're just projecting. =/

    • Meh, new comment system is icky. Copying to where this reply should be.

    • Dr_NerdLove says:

      Just FYI, neutral stance is frequently a default stance for the status quo. For example, the National Organization for Marriage, a rabidly anti-gay group (and a hate group according to the SPLC) has been trying to get corporations to be “neutral” towards gay marriage or gay rights… because by taking no stance, they are following the status quo of “not equal”, just dressed up in prettier language. “We're not denying gays equal rights, we're staying neutral on the subject”.

      • If there was something to do to stop haters other than report them to the police (when they get that extreme) and/or ban them from the services they use (twitter, the app he made, etc.) then by all means, let me know what it is and I will be happy to leave neutrality and show my support.

        Being uselessly outraged… is kinda what got the haters in the mess /they/ are in to start with. So if 'be uselessly outraged' at the haters is my only option, that's when I choose 'deal with it, then ignore.' Which is much less neutral than just 'ignore' by the way. =/ In this case however, it's already been dealt with, so that's why it seems much more neutral in this particular circumstance. There's nothing for me to do to help deal with it except ignore the haters and support/respect those who didn't do anything wrong.

        Again, this boils back to 'haters gonna hate.' It /is/ the status quo. If you've got some miraculous cure for haters hating, I'd love to hear about it and support it and leave my stance of 'neutrality.' Getting yourself all worked up over it serves…what purpose exactly? You're basically giving the trolls what they want. Working yourself all into a bother. At least it's not over nothing, I would never call this type of behavior 'nothing' or 'not a problem'. But after the problem stops being a problem, what more is there to do? Rant and post a blog about it, I guess. =P

        If the National Organization for Marriage truly felt neutrality was the way to go instead of being anti-gay, then they would encourage people who are anti-gay to also be neutral. Since they (I assume) only advocate neutrality to those who are considering supporting gays, they're not actually neutral and are lying behind words. Also, if they really put their money where there mouth is, if it came to a vote, they would abstain. I doubt they would abstain, nor encourage anti-gays to abstain in any degree similar to how much they encourage pro-gay to abstain. So again, not really neutral, just lying to say they are.

        • I think what you do it’s pretty simple. Post the story of Anita on your social networks. Tell your friends. And make them know treating people like this is not ok. Do nothing, say nothing, or ‘that’s just the way it is’ only makes it easier for it to happen next time.

  28. I guess I feel like there's parts you are glossing over. I respect your stance towards Sarkeesian, regardless.

  29. Paul Rivers says:

    No one should be being threatened with violence for writing their opinion, whether it’s unpopular / you disagree with it / etc.

    But the reaction to this isn’t anywhere near the “you’re trying to silence her because she’s a woman” that it’s trying really hard to be described as. It’s “you’re trying to silence someone else because clearly they’re going to rip on something you really like, and tell everyone that it’s wrong and bad”.

    …in order to vent their fury at the idea that somebody was going to maybe possibly say something negative about the way women are portrayed in games….Again: because people were upset and afraid about what she **might** say about video games.

    Right, because she could have been writing on article on how much she loves games and – wait, what’s that? She has a whole blog you can look at to see what kind of stuff she writes?

    Then she specifically posted what it was going to be about? http://www.feministfrequency.com/2012/05/help-fun

    “Have you ever noticed that, with a few notable exceptions, basically all female characters in video games fall into a small handful of clichés and stereotypes?… many games tend to reinforce and amplify sexist and downright misogynist ideas about women.”

    “maybe possibly say something negative” – there’s no debate whether she’s going to say something negative. The debate is whether she’s going to say something accurat and negative, or whether she’s just going to rip on stuff.

    This wasn’t about trying to have a reasoned, even passionate debate about her views on games this was about telling a **woman** that she was not allowed to have an opinion on the matter.

    There’s no “maybe it would be passionate” about this – it would unquestionably be passionate and be attacking what she sees as sexism. Again, the debate is whether what she would say is accurate or whether she would be just ripping on stuff.

    It’s not about telling a “woman” that she was not allowed to have an opinion on the matter, it’s about a bunch of people getting upset that they feel someone is about to produce a video telling everyone that video games are terrible and video game players all hate women, etc etc.

    ** Clearly ** – a certain number of people took it way, way, way to far, and it’s completely appropriate to be super pissed at that person, and possibly even follow up with legal action.

    But it’s not a debate about “silencing women”, it may well be “silencing anyone who critizes us”.

    The mere idea that she might express an opinion about the way that women are portrayed in games is apparently so abhorrent to some people that they felt that the only appropriate way to respond was to take away her voice.</

    I loathe Rush Limbaugh – I think he’s a blowhard shock jock who’s deliberately a jackass for ratings. But still – when he made his “slut” comments, there was a whole firestorm of women and feminists (and other people) who felt that they had every right to tell him that he had no right to his opinion and that he shouldn’t be allowed to express it on the air. I…kind of agree with them, personally (about the on the air part at least, everyone has the right to their own opinion), but the point is that they didn’t have a problem righteously telling him that the appropriate response was to take away his voice.

    Saying “they have no right to treat her that way for producing a video critizing sexism in video games” is true.

    It’s – I’m sorry – completely rediculous to claim that “everyone who disagrees with her producing the video does so because she’s a woman and they don’t even have any idea what she’s going to say!”. Everyone knows what she was going to say – she explicitly stated what the video was going to be about.

    That doesn't give anyone the right to do shitty stuff like creating games where you punch the person. But if someone wants to have a "rational" debate about what happens, I don't see how "she's being critized because she's a woman! and they have no idea what she was going to say!" is helpful when neither of those things were true.

    • Anime victim says:

      Well if you have seen any of her stuff, you know she also criticizes stuff she really likes. Just because it's media a group of people like, does not mean it's immune from criticism.

      It seems as if all these people who are worried she is going to say negative stuff, don't know her history on critiquing and that she very harshly critiques stuff she loves. She did a whole critique on the straw feminist and used as an example Veronica Mars. A show many feminists love, including herself. She critiqued Farscape pretty harshly. A show with many awesome female cast members and show she also likes. She critiqued Fringe, a show she likes. Stargate, a show she likes. Watch some of her videos. She goes after stuff staring women like True Grit and the Hunger games. (Again stuff she says she likes.)

      It's not like she is doing these critiques to totally hate on stuff people love and take them away. She's trying to show how deeply entrenched in society many ideas about women (and men) are. To the point that they even get into really good stuff many people love. These ideas directly affect womens daily lives, in a negative fashion which is why it's important to talk about them.

      All her stuff is there on youtube, you can watch and see for yourself. She's a pretty equal opportunity critic. Yes, she may seem harsh, but she is harsh on the good stuff too, which I think is pretty fair.

      • Anime victim says:

        I should also note that she IS a gamer. It's not like it's a world she knows nothing about. Also if you think it's going to be harsh, well that says something about the gaming world, dosen't it? If people know it's going to be really bad already, then probably it's an issue that needs to be examined.

  30. I like sexy women. I like sexy women in video games. That's nothing unusual. Everyone likes a bit of eye-candy. However, I do also realize that these aren't real women, and that real women do not dress or act this way, at least the majority don't.

    Also, I can sort of understand where these woman-haters are coming from. The geek-world for a very long time was almost solely made up of men, it was a place where guys who were otherwise socially shunned(especially by a lot of women, although that's changing), could be accepted. Now they see this new party trying to break into their world. However, for one, trying to block off attempts for women to be seen equally and treated as such, and two, death threats and the like AREN'T ACCEPTABLE. Woman or man, people have the right to enjoy whatever hobbies they want without being hassle, and most definitely have the right to try to fix a situation where they aren't being treated equally.

    While one can see the logic behind these people's actions, it is a twisted and incredibly irrational logic that does not justify what they are doing. Nothing does. This treatment of Sarkeesian has induced one of those moments where I am ashamed to be a member of humanity and be a man, for simply having those two things in common with people like this.

  31. Paul Rivers says:

    Hi, thanks for commenting back.

    It seems as if all these people who are worried she is going to say negative stuff, don't know her history on critiquing and that she very harshly critiques stuff she loves.

    But – the whole rest of your comment – just further reinforces what I'm saying – you know the kind of stuff she's going to say already. You know that she says very critical things about shows that she and other feminists **love**. Even stuff that they absolutely adore she's extremely critical of.

    This is NOT about "We need to silence a woman simply because she's a woman with an opinion – and we can't let women have an opionion!"

    This is about "We're need to silence a critic who's going to be extremely critical of us!". That doesn't make make what they did right, it doesn't say "oh, it's understandably" – it doesn't say any of that. But she's "maybe possibly" going say something negative? Are we living on another planet? Are we actively burying our heads under a rock?

    • Anime victim says:

      I now can't find the video. She gave some background on her experience with video games and even a picture of her at 11 years old playing a video game. It's actually an extension of the video for her kickstarter. She is wearing the same clothes, in the same location etc… I tried searching google and well, that didn't go well.

      She also does say she loves playing video games in the text of the kickstarter proposal.
      I will also say, she does say good things about stuff, but that shows in her videos. If anyone actually bothers to watch her videos, you can see that she deeply researches stuff.

      About the harassment not silencing a woman for having an opinion. How many of these harassing gamers knew about her before she started this Kickstarter? I am guessing not many, if they did not even know she was experienced with video games. Not to mention her critiquing history (some of her videos have been up for 2 years). They just wanted to shut her up.
      I do know that the guy who made the beat up game did watch her 2 part lego critique but I think that has been some of her best work. (Even 4 year olds figured out toy companies and their gender biased marketing. It's that blatant) But from seeing much of the harassment and how the harrassers talk about her. I get the indication, they are not familiar with her. She's just daring to touch a subject that they don't want touched. They see her as someone trying to destroy "their world".

    • Anime victim says:

      Oooh, I found this article and she gives some of the same background I had seen in that video: http://www.destructoid.com/interview-anita-sarkee

  32. Hugh Myron says:

    The problem is that Sarkeesian is a highly biased anti-sex feminist who rigidly censors her youtube video comments. She masquerades as an investigative journalist who actually creates dogmatic feminist rants.

    For example: her video on BitTorrent Trackers and Porn Ads. She says they display those ads to fit the male fantasies of their viewers. In reality, because of BitTorrent's illegitimate nature, few mainstream companies will deal with them, so they're forced to seek out pornographers for advertising. But Sarkeesian is so blinded by her feminism that she can't see basic logic.

    I never got my head around her rants about tropes against women. If a woman is weak and submissive, that's objectionable. If a woman is strong and powerful (such as Megan Fox in Jennifer's Body), then that's objectionable too.

    Lol?

  33. Remember, you can only be a hater or a troll, simply having a different opinion than someone else is impossible.

    Good thing this article isn't biased or anything, it's good that you took your time and respectfully researched and presented both sides point of views.

    Stay whiteknight.

  34. costanzadotjaypeg says:

    All she's done with the hundreds of thousands of dollars so far, has been drawing some arrows on a board. She's also been traveling to interesting countries while she should have been doing what people paid her for.

    But it wasn't a scam, right guys? We're just haters, right?

  35. I love how anyone with any form of even light criticism is instantly downvoted on this website, no matter how constructive.

    He asked for an unbiased article?! BETTER DOWNVOTE WITHOUT ACTUALLY REFUTING HIS ARGUMENT!

  36. In addition to the vocal haters and trolls, there's also legitimate criticism of Sarkeesian, her ideas, her work and her Kickstarter project:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lERF9q40iS0 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p6gLmcS3-NI http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LpFk5F-S_hI

    The vocal haters don't rest truthfulness to all these.

    Unsurprisingly, this blog that claims to be "unbiased" choses to side with the feminist side.

  37. Sarkeesian is a hater that wishes to censor something just because she doesn t like it. Everything she say is completely subjective and anyone can come to any conclusion he want by following the same method. Sexualization and objectification happens to both sexes, and is not a bad thing, it s easier to present things that way in terms of story telling or simply by a estetic point of view. Remeber that the male body usually represents design, while the female body is asosiated with beauty, that s why all male characters look the same, while all female characters are pretty. Anything that takes freedom away is pestering society, just like Anita.

  38. Agree, Sarkeesian is a Hater and probably the founding member of the "SHE-RA´S MALE V.G. HEROES HATER´S CLUB".

    Seriously her research is no research at all, if this was a college paper she would get an "F" for using Wikipedia articles as a main source and get expelled for copy-pasting other people´s work (youtube videos from other youtubers) as expositon materials, her arguments are contradictory her logic inexistent and every valid point she could make is completely lost when she crops videogames footage out of contex throwing in her arguments amped to 11.

    It´s like hearing Hitler talking about the benefits of Killing Jews.

    I´m a male gamer from Argentina and I have a lot of female friends and most of them are gamers and they laughed her asses off watching Sarkeesian´s videos, one of them even sayd "No hay verga ni concha que le venga bien a esta perra" wich in english would be somenthing like "There´s no Slang-for-Penis nor Slang-for-Vagina to this bitch´s liking," our way to say "There´s no pleasing some people" but more like a sarcastic insult.

    Anyway, The Video Game Market is a Market and they make their products for the most larger demographic if that demograpic were VICTORIAN RECREATIONIST DOG´S LOVERS guess what the videogame companies would be producing?…

    She attacks damsels in distress plot devices in her videos, then she attacks Female Heroines claiming they had been striped from everything that makes them females and to add insult to injury they had been converted into male estereotypes with breasts?, and all this is part of the Male Gamer Agenda to what I ask? Eliminate women from videogames? oversexualise them? opress them? attack them? objetifcy them? make gender violence against women the new trend?

    Has she ever played FFX-2?, TOMB RAIDER series? DRAKAN series? ONI? MIRROR´S EDGE? VENETICA? METROID? GOLDEN AXE? any RPG at all? RESIDENT EVIL series? SILENT HILL 3? NIGHTS? REMEMBER ME? Point and Click adventures like NANCY DREW series, THE LONGEST JOURNEY SERIES or STILL LIFE series? And the list can go on for long.

    In a related note what does she propouse? If a Femela Heroine or female lead character of a video game cant do the same things a male hero can do without being transformed into a male stereotype with tits, then what? no more FPS? no more Action RPG´S? no more anything war related? no more Fighting games? what does that leave us? SUDOKU and PUZZLE GAMES, MONOPOLY? because that very contradiction makes what she thinks needs to be corrected completely useless and pointless, so what form would her change in plot devices and leading charactes or heroes would take if accomplished? what would change and how it would be used? If you ask me? I would say worst case scenario nothing but a complete faillure, best case scenario more female heroines and lead characters in games or at least the options to choose between male or female player character in every game even if it doesn´t make sence or improves the game at all, but the Damsel in Distress won´t dissapear, it would just adapt and evolve but remaining the same basic and effective plot divice that makes our game characters do the things they must do and make us care for him or she from the get go.

  39. Hi there! I know this is kinda off topic but I was wondering if you knew where I could get a captcha plugin for my
    comment form? I’m using the same blog platform as yours and I’m having difficulty finding one?
    Thanks a lot!

  40. I’m not sure why but this weblog is loading very slow for me.
    Is anyone else having this issue or is it a problem on my end?
    I’ll check back later on and see if the problem still exists.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Leaping once more into the breach, Dr. Nerdlove writes about “the Internet Hate Machine”….  “There’s a good question as to just why there’s this active core of hatred and fear of women in geek culture and why they seem so determined to silence anyone–women especially–who dares question male privilege.  Now let’s be clear: I’m not an expert by any stretch of the imagination, so take this as just my opinion borne out of what I’ve seen in over 20+ years of being on the Internet. The misogyny we’re seeing in nerd culture is more about what happens when entitlement and resentment melt together and form a bitter little pill.” [...]

  2. [...] is also a better argument over on DoctorNerdLove about this issue (that I enjoyed) and now if you excuse me, I have a new webseries I’m pitching called “Tropes vs [...]

  3. [...] Sarkeesian van Feminist Frequency kreeg er ongenadig van langs toen ze een plan aankondigde voor een serie over vrouwelijke personages in computerspelletjes. Ze [...]

  4. […] about women working in the industry (or even better, the comments section). And who can forget the whole Anita Sarkeesian thing. It seems as though women are either loosing silently and horribly or have the attention (and […]

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