Part Two: Silenced

Continuing my discussion of the Dr. Nerdlove (DN) article recent harassment of Sarkeesian which I posted on yesterday, but taking a different point…

One of the points that I think has been lost in a lot of the furor is one that DN points out fairly early… and one that I think is really quite important in this discussion as a product of misogyny (and which relates to my post on online hate speech). In essence, DN says, “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” (emphasis original).

If we think about it, the desire to silence Sarkeesian for something she hasn’t said yet and might not say at all (and she did note in her original Kickstarter video that she was going to talk about both the good and the bad) is worse, I think, than condemning something that she has actually said. Certainly, one can probably extrapolate what she might say from what she’s said in other “Tropes vs. Women” videos, but she hasn’t actually said anything yet.

The greatest danger of hate speech is that it produces fear – and while Sarkeesian isn’t letting it stop her from speaking out, traditions and patterns of hate-speech and bigotry in a culture do produce a culture of what amounts to silence. And silence can be a form of victimization – those who are silenced and rendered incapable of self-defense are victimized by that enforced silence. We’ve seen this in bigger, more obviously condemnable terms in gender-based crimes in other places (rape being used as a shame tactic to silence women, for example), and I would agree that addressing culturally-sanctioned violence is more important than addressing trolls on the internet. However, the types of trolls that we’re seeing in this particular incident are guilty of a degree of the same practice of cultural silencing.

Silencing someone is a way to make sure that what they have to say is unaddressed. It’s a way of devaluing their opinion and their overall worth. It’s a way to remove the issue from the spotlight and make sure that others not only do not seek to change the status quo, but that they do not realize there is even a status quo that needs changing. If we do not talk about the misogyny inherent in geek culture (to say nothing of culture in general), then it does not exist. It’s a childish response (hide under the covers and the monster can’t see me because I can’t see it) being enacted by adults whose ability to render harm is made greater by their apparent (although clearly not actual) maturity.

DN makes a distinction between “trolls” (as people who just want to be rude and shocking, to “get a rise” out of others) and “haters” (whose personal vendetta against someone or something – here, Sarkeesian – is specific and more potentially harmful). I would argue that, based on these definitions, both trolls and haters are a problem, but of a different kind. Trolls are problematic because their noise and flung-feces obscure the issue by drowning it out (a form of silencing). Haters are problematic because their vitriol is much more specifically harmful and deliberate. Haters want to silence this person on this subject, and are generally going to be the more misogynist of the two. Trolls will say misogynist things, but they may or may not really mean them.

Both perpetuate a culture of misogyny within geekdom, gaming, and the internet generally, but one (as I discussed earlier) is a part of a generalized culture that intends on real harm, despite the fact that it contributes to a general sense of acceptance for such an attitude. The other is directly abusive, emotionally and psychologically, and is a deliberate assault on an individual or group. Trolls create unintentional victims; haters deliberately victimize.

As I said yesterday, I’m not sure whether self-policing or organizational regulation is the right answer… what I’d really like to see is the development of a culture in which both hating and trolling is unacceptable, and not because someone will turn off your XBL account because you’ve done it.

Part One: Retribution

Dr. Nerdlove (I’m going to resist commenting on the name, just bear with me) posted today about recent harassment of Sarkeesian, which has now become the hot topic of this blog, and is making me feel obligated to post pretty much every time someone says something semi-intelligent about it. The article is quite lengthy, and I have several things to address in it, so I’m going to break it up and start with the things that enrage me the most.

In his article, Dr. Nerdlove (who is going to be DN from now on because I can’t make myself type that every time I need to refer to the author) discusses the game (which NewGrounds did take down) made in which the player “beats up” Sarkeesian. He gives the creator’s real name and twitter, and analyzes Ben Spurr’s (the creator) “justification” of his creation. Spurr attacks Sarkeesian for “scamming” people out of money for funding her Kickstarter. As though it were anything but voluntary. There is no way to “scam” people on Kickstarter except by not following through with the promised product, and since Sarkeesian has made videos of this sort before, there is no indication that she does not intend to follow through now.

DN also posts the following, taken from 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.

I’m not going to comment because what would result would be a largely unintelligible apoplectic fit of unconcealed rage.

DN then takes a turn I was not expecting. I’m also not sure how comfortable I am with it. He talks about the fact that another blogger (Steph Guthrie) led an internet campaign against Spurr. His point is, in essence, that this campaign was “entirely too close to the initial ‘shut the bitch up!’ campaign that Anita Sarkeesian underwent for my tastes….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.” (There was also blowback against Guthrie, as well, which escalated to the point that some posters were reported to the police for making death threats.)

And this comes back to the idea of hate speech – when is speech protected and when is it not? When do we demand that online gaming sites (like Microsoft Live or Steam) monitor and censor what players are saying or sending to one another? When does that become too Big Brother for our tastes, and when is it creating an appropriate “safe” atmosphere? Would it be appropriate for Steam to censor Spurr’s profile, or is that infringing upon his rights of free speech?

This is an issue that doesn’t just appear on the internet, but that’s where the battle lines are currently being drawn. We don’t see this level of open misogyny in the workplace (or someone would get fired/sued) or publicized on television, so why is it considered “acceptable” online? And what should we expect be done about it? So far, self-policing has been the solution offered up by companies who either don’t want to or don’t have the staff to deal with it. “Report them,” “block them,” and “ignore them” are the solutions we’ve been given.

Reporting is largely useless. Blocking means we don’t have to listen, but it doesn’t stop it from happening. It’s the online equivalent of sticking our fingers in our ears and humming while the monster bears down on us. Ignoring them is worse – that silences the victims instead and tells them that they need to put up with being attacked by the monster instead.

Regulation would seem to be the solution, but isn’t that just another form of silencing? Now there’s a very large part of me that is all for silencing harassment. But there’s that tiny little voice that says “but isn’t that just the same thing?” I guess it puts us in a lesser-of-two-evils position. We have to silence someone, and it’s better to silence the person seeking to do harm than the person being harmed. But – and I think this is where DN was troubled by Guthrie’s campaign – it still leaves me with an unsettled feeling in my stomach.

Followup from FemFreq

Anita Sarkeesian posted a link to this article and interview with her on gamesindustry international by Dan Pearson. Pearson’s title, “Woman Vs. Internet: How Anita Sarkeesian beat the trolls,” is perhaps a bit optimistic and reductive, but the attitude he has about the whole thing is one that characterizes Sarkeesian as a hero willing to put up with the trolls in order to do something she views as crucial to the development of our culture in general and the culture surrounding videogames in particular.

Pearson notes several potential sources for what we perceive as misogyny in the industry: the low number of women in development, the original misogyny in the industry that perpetuates the alienation of female gamers, the misogyny of the community itself keeping women from speaking over headsets during online play, etc. He also notes that people – men and women alike – are working to change this. Developers are looking to hire more women. Depictions of women are getting better (overall, although there are specific instances of failure). And, as he says, “Online debate is helping.”

“But,” he also notes, “the problem persists.”

In the interview portion of the article, Pearson asks Sarkeesian not only about her Kickstarter and the backlash it generated, but also about what she actually thinks about the images of women in videogames. And for that I would like to give him a cookie, because, frankly, that’s what she wanted to talk about to begin with and what the trolls have been trying to stop her from talking about. After reading the interview, I, for one, am looking forward to what Sarkeesian’s Tropes Vs. Women in Videogames has to say.

So I want to address the issue here, very briefly and less eloquently than Sarkeesian. She talks about the false equivalency argument made about unrealistic characters (aka, “male characters are unrealistic, too”), the question of whether immorality is demeaning, and so on. And one of the points she makes at the end is worth repeating:

It’s important to remember however, that entertainment media doesn’t exist in a vacuum – that characters, stories and universes are an integral and growing part of our cultural landscape outside of the game. As such game developers should understand that their creations are always interacting with (and have an effect on) the widespread pre-existing stereotypes and negative perceptions about women in the real world.

Game characters and game narratives are powerful bits of culture and they can be employed to either reinforce harmful stereotypes about women or to actively challenge or subvert those regressive perceptions. Ultimately, I want complex, engaging and flawed yet heroic female characters with transformative story arcs instead of boring, marginalized, overly sexualized, cliched stereotypes.

In essence, the images of women presented in games – or any other media – are engaged in a critical dialogue with our understanding of what women should be, what they shouldn’t be, and how they should behave. And any depiction of women is a part of that dialogue, whether positive or negative, fat or thin, sexy or not. Sarkeesian’s point seems to be that we need to be aware that any image we create is going to become a part of that cultural milieu, and whether we really “mean” the image to be idealized or condemned, it will engage with and possibly help to shape our current standards.

And, really, that’s ultimately a good thing. Media of all kinds (literature, film, games, etc.) have been doing this for centuries. Games should be doing this, but they should also be aware that they’ve entered a stage in their development where the way they depict anyone and anything (not only women) has the potential to influence the direction of our social ideologies. Which is, I think, an overall good. But developers and artists need to remember that and take it into consideration.

So are images of women in games demeaning and objectifying? Some of them are, yes. Personally, though, I have more issues with Princess Peach than I do with Lara Croft, and not because Peach is a sexualized fetish object (although her name is Peach…). PP is helpless; Croft is most definitely not, and I would consider that a positive (even though I might wish she were a bit more proportional).

I would also argue that female protagonists are not the largest issue – female NPCs (non-player characters) are. When women are always the victims, when they are always helpless, always reliant upon the (usually male) player-character to rescue them, that is more destructive than when they are, say, Bayonetta (who has a whole host of issues, but can at least take care of herself). When the depiction of women is always as a victim, then women come to be viewed as victims, whether they are or not. And if women are always viewed as victims, then victimizing them becomes acceptable, because that is what they are “supposed” to be. And that is really where I have a problem with the way women often appear in games (and, truth be told, in many forms of media).

The New Ending (more ME3)

So I downloaded and played the Extended Cut for Mass Effect 3. Given my disappointment in the “original” ending, I wasn’t prepared to be thrilled by its extension. Nor was I. What I was not, however, was saddened, horrified, or made even more depressed by it.

I would take it as an improvement. I would not say that it “fixed” the problems with the original ending. In fact, it helped to clarify one of the more prominent disappointments I had with it. If you don’t want it spoiled, stop reading now.

The extension added in a logical explanation for how the heck my teammates got away from me and back on the Normandy (good!). It put in a final goodbye to the romance interest (also good!). It told me what happened to my squad and all the thousands of aliens that had joined the battle for earth… albeit a bit quickly and rushed (positive neutral).

It did not fix the big, gaping, logical flaws in the ending with the Catalyst. In fact, it made them more pronounced. Although you can now shoot the Catalyst (and I’m sure there were many players out there who wanted to), it makes you lose because the Reapers destroy everything. Nevertheless, there’s a little bit of catharsis there. However, the idea that what boils down to an AI is playing god by “deciding” that there is a cycle of life and death and it alone is responsible for arbitrating that cycle is just… not enough. While the core idea behind the Catalyst is really quite compelling, its execution as a petty godling taking the form of a dead child Shepard failed to save is… weak at best. When Shepard asks it (extended ending) about its creators and why it thought it had the right to destroy them, it says Shepard would not understand.

There is nothing I loathe more in fiction than a character who says, “Oh, I’m not going to tell you because you won’t understand.” What that says to me is that the author doesn’t actually know or is incapable of adequately explaining themselves… and doesn’t want to bother trying. Bad storytelling.

I also hate the now obvious implication that I’m supposed to embrace this thing that wants to annihilate all sentient life and meld my DNA with it… because it says so? I think not. And this visceral hate-filled reaction is really why I think Bioware did improve the ending. Because I’m feeling something against a figure in their game that my Shepard would feel. It caused me to weigh the consequences (the loss of some allies) against the fact that I was being told by this lordling-AI that it and I should bond, and I realized that I abhor what it stands for so much that I’m willing to destroy other AIs so that I can kill this one and all it represents. That’s good. I didn’t get that in the original.

Now, I’m not entirely sure that’s the reaction Bioware wanted to get out of me, but I’m willing to take it. Sure, the ending was cobbled-together out of artistic stills instead of game-engine footage, and I’m a little peeved by the fact that it looks and feels hackneyed. But at least my reaction went from “What the hell was that crap?” to something more fundamental. I cared about my choice. I wasn’t happy about it, but I cared enough to want to make it.

Hate Speech and Free Speech (Online)

Clearly, this issue of online abuse and hate speech is neither as marginal as we had hoped nor is it going to go away quietly on its own. What it will take to make it go away is another question entirely, but drawing attention to the fact that it exists at all is a start.

This afternoon, a friend re-tweeted a link to this article by Helen Lewis on New Statesman, which not only makes an argument about the limiting problems of hate speech, but also recaps what has been going on with Anita Sarkeesian’s Feminist Frequency Kickstarter and the horrific responses to it. And yes, for those of you following along, it does get worse.

To recap. Sarkeesian put up a Kickstarter to make videos on women in videogames. It did well. It also garnered a whole mess of inappropriate and sexist comments. And then images (several of which are reproduced in the article by Lewis). We’ve also seen the fiasco involving Ryan Perez, Felicia Day, and Will Wheaton on twitter, and the response of the Tomb Raider team to rape culture. All of these things, Lewis notes, are hate speech.

Hate speech, she argues, quoting Ally Fogg, places a limitation on other people’s ability to speak:

What you fail to understand is that the use of hate speech, threats and bullying to terrify and intimidate people into silence or away from certain topics is a far bigger threat to free speech than any legal sanction.

Imagine this is not the internet but a public square. One woman stands on a soapbox and expresses an idea. She is instantly surrounded by an army of 5,000 angry people yelling the worst kind of abuse at her in an attempt to shut her up. Yes, there’s a free speech issue there. But not the one you think.

And Fogg’s point applies to anyone, in any circumstances, being silenced by hate speech, bullying, and abuse. It’s also one of the biggest problems in trying to address this form of abuse (especially online) – if the victim tries to defend him or herself, she or he is immediately inundated by comments, images, and other responses that both overwhelm whatever is being said and encourage others to not speak out in defense of their beliefs in order to avoid similar treatment. This is a huge problem. Fogg implies that the solution is legislation, but I’m not so sure. I’m also not sure that legislation isn’t the solution… this comes back to one of the biggest issues I’ve been having – what can you do about it all?

But this is not just about what we’ve already seen. What we also have now – Lewis notes – is a game that encourages players to “beat up” Sarkeesian. No, I’m not kidding. I wish I were.

A small (very very small) part of me wants to address this to that troll who suggested that games were not used for social or political commentary, as very clearly this game is being used to comment on the creator’s opinion of Sarkeesian’s project. However, the rest of me is absolutely horrified by its creation, and is further horrified by the fact that I’m sure it’s getting a lot of positive attention from people who agree with that message.

Now this is not going to be a post about violence in videogames, nor is it going to be a demonstration of hypocrisy when I say that this violence is unacceptable while other types of in-game violence are acceptable. The difference – of course – is that your average in-game violence is not directed at a specific individual. The violence in this game is entirely directed at a specific individual. Yes, there are types of in-game violence that I find problematic (beating up prostitutes in Grand Theft Auto, for instance, or violence that is directed entirely and only at a specific ethnic group). But in most other games, the violence is a vehicle, not the core point of the game (even in combat games, like Mortal Kombat, the point is not wanton violence, but the skill of combat – a competition, rather than a merciless and non-reciprocated beating).

This has moved beyond hate speech and free speech and is the digital equivalent of offering to hold someone down so that other people can – digitally and emotionally – abuse them. It has pushed past simple catharsis (which I’m guessing is how the creator would defend it) and has become an incitement to actual violence, emotional and physical, against a real human being. The complaint against in-game violence is that it can lead to actual violence, and most of the time I would argue that is preposterous. But characters are not real people: they are fictional constructs in a fictional world with a fictional narrative. Sarkeesian is not fictional, and this is not (unfortunately) a fictional narrative. She is a real person with real emotions and a real human body (and whose address has been publicized by those harassing her).

Artistic license ends where incitement to real violence begins, and as far as I’m concerned, the person who came up with the game should not only be forced to remove it and apologize to Sarkeesian, but should also be fined. While he may not have ever intended real physical harm to come to her, he is encouraging and facilitating it. Certainly not everyone who visits and plays his game would actually consider implementing violence against Sarkeesian in person, and I’m not saying that this game will make them want to, but it offers a possibility that is both real and dangerous.

And not only (although primarily) to Sarkeesian. It allows consideration of domestic, sexist abuse as “fun” in a way that I have never seen in another videogame. It glorifies the role of the abuser as righteously justified and engages in legitimizing the act of victimization as deserved. This isn’t just about free speech. It’s about taking half of the human race and authorizing them as nothing more than objects for physical, emotional, and psychological abuse.

I have no solution to this that I or anyone I know is capable of implementing. I can only hope that if enough people bring attention to it, it will be taken down and destroyed, and that it doesn’t lead to any lasting, real-world repercussions.

Are we quite finished with this?

I’m aware that this blog has somewhat unintentionally turned feminist – it was never my intention for the majority of posts here to be concerned with issues of gender and sexism (or any other form of bigotry) in the gaming community. That is not because I don’t think the issue is important, it’s more because (as I’ve said, repeatedly) recent events and threads online have taken me in that direction.

Feminist Frequency just put up this post, introducing a whole new level of misogyny to the conversation here. I haven’t spent a lot of time discussing visual imagery in media and videogames because it was never really my intention to add to what is already being done quite well (including by Anita Sarkeesian at FemFreq).

While I’m familiar with the commonality of using images in memes online (especially on Fark and Reddit), and while I’m also aware that those images are also not infrequently lewd and borderline offensive, I was generally under the impression that those images were not typically being used to target specific individuals. Yes, I know that media icons and pop stars are often photoshopped in rude and offensive ways. No, the fact that they are in the public eye does not make it acceptable behavior. However, I also know that most of the time the crude humor evinced in theses memes is simply non-specific crude humor.

Yes, a lot of it is misogynist, homophobic, racist, and otherwise bigoted. But a lot of it also involves cats. In essence, there are photoshop memes out there that are not offensive, and I like to think that there are more LOLCats than there are rudely doctored images of Sarkeesian.

However, as the post on FemFreq illustrates, these photoshop memes have introduced in recent years a whole new level of harmful behavior. This is not new in content, but it does appear to be new in scope. It’s threatening, demeaning, and diminishes the gaming community as a whole. For a group of people who have largely been marginalized and dismissed for most of their lives by their peers, such treatment of another person within their community is astounding. The violence of the images Sarkeesian describes is gender-specific and profoundly personal, and attempts to victimize her – and other women who agree with her – on a level that is visceral and deeply disturbing.

This is not how adult human beings behave to one another offline. We do not do this to each other at our places of work (or we get fired) and we do not do this to each other in our family homes. That adult (presumably) men feel that this is an acceptable way to comment on Sarkeesian’s project indicates that feminism is not “dead” and that equality has not been reached. A veneer of it has been painted over the surface of our public lives, but has emerged through the relative anonymity of the internet.

And it’s a big problem. There are a lot of men who apparently feel that women should not speak up, should not be encouraged to participate critically or creatively in the production of media, and – by extension – should not be allowed to be full human beings. As a woman in a position of relative privilege, I have not had to face what many women have had to endure (in the US or on a global scale), but I am aware of many negative assumptions made about me, my abilities, my intelligence, and my strength based solely on my gender. I have been insulted, abused verbally, and dismissed, and I am one of the luckier ones.

Recently, I have been made both ashamed and proud of the fact that I am a gamer. Ashamed that society affiliates the attitudes of trolls with a community of which I consider myself a part. Proud to be a female gamer when other women are willing to stand up and speak out against the implicit misogyny in games and forums… and now, who are willing to keep slogging on despite the explicit harassment they have to endure. I haven’t been a victim of the latter, but I respect the hell out of Sarkeesian for putting up with it and continuing to do what it is she set out to do.

Today’s Inexplicable Behavior Brought to You By…

So one would think – or at least hope – that by this point in Western civilization, that we would all more or less be capable of behaving like functional, respectful adults (at least those of us who are adults). This is apparently not the case in the gaming community, as anyone who has been reading these posts for the past few weeks has become aware.

In my last post, I mentioned how suddenly a lot of this has just seemed to explode into the public eye, despite a fairly long-standing tradition of misogynistic and intolerant behavior in the community – not in general or at large, but present enough to have become a trope. This trope of the misogynist gamer (the kind who proverbially lives in his mother’s basement and sends disturbing messages to women on internet dating sites) is not one I would like to see continue, as I happen to know and like quite a few male gamers who are nothing of the sort. However, a recent surge of feminist outcry against this trope and its accompanying tendency to objectify and minimize digital images of women has caused the minority who behave like the Male-Gaming-Troll to emerge from the woodwork, grub-style.

Today’s act of mind-numbing misogyny (brought to my attention by the same colleague who pointed me in the direction of the Trolls) comes from a “gentleman” named Ryan Perez, staff member of Destructoid. Mr. Perez took it upon himself, apparently, to use his twitter to insult Felicia Day:

Does Felicia Day matter at all? I mean does she actually contribute anything useful to this industry, besides retaining a geek persona?
@feliciaday, I keep seeing everywhere. Question: Do you matter at all? Do you even provide anything useful to gaming, besides “personality?
Could you be considered nothing more than a glorified booth babe? You don’t seem to add anything creative to the medium.

The implication seems to be that Day, because she is an attractive woman, could not possibly have anything to contribute to the gaming community besides her attractiveness, hence the last of the three tweets about being “a glorified booth babe.”

A response to this came from Will Wheaton, who suggested to Destructoid that Perez should be made to apologize for his offensive tweets:

@destructiod that jackass owes @feliciaday a public apology at the very least. He’s an ignorant misogynist, and @dtoid can do better.

In Destructoid’s defense, it tweeted a response disavowing any agreement with Perez’s tweet and apologizing to Day. They subsequently fired Perez, who did later apologize to Day, who graciously accepted his apology. Perez then issued the following tweet to Wheaton:

@wilw I’m small-time. Nobody should care about what I say. Go fuck yourself, you opportunistic puddle of miscarriage soup.

I’m not going to go into detail on the level of misogyny that it takes to even come up with the phrase “puddle of miscarriage soup” as an insult. I am going to say that it always matters what people say, especially when they speak as even a small-time public figure. What you say and how you say it are vitally important to the way you portray yourself and the organization you work for, especially if you are considered as a voice for that organization (which is the case if you are a blogger or writer on behalf of a website or magazine). And when what you say is bigoted, then you don’t deserve to continue speaking on behalf of that organization.

If only this were an isolated incident. But Destructoid seems to be developing a reputation. In February of 2011, they were asked in an open letter posted on Border House to deal with another staff member named Jim Sterling for his tweets to a woman named Daphny, including the following:

@daphaknee People like you *revel* in sexism, so sure. I’m just giving you what all attention-seeking little bitches crave.

This is precisely the sort of attitude that is – I think – the most problematic. Certainly, I get irritated at assumptions that women are inferior (whether at gaming, thinking, or using power tools… or anything else, for that matter), but assumptions of inferiority can be countered with competence. This attitude – that women want to be belittled and abused (whether verbally, emotionally, or physically) – is more damaging than even the base assumption of inferiority that underpins it.

This blog post on Go Make Me a Sandwich (the name is misleading, trust me) enumerates many of the problems with Sterling’s actions (and acknowledges that Daphny is not entirely without fault for their twitter war). Some of what appears there is awful, but I stand by the assertion that the sentiment above is the most dangerous part of it. Because for all the profanity and presumptions of inferiority, the idea that at least some of the people involved in the perpetuation of misogyny actually think that women like it strikes me as particularly awful… all the more so because they must have gotten that idea from somewhere.

From films and television that have glorified such behavior? From video games? From their parents or grandparents? Perhaps. And the media bears a good deal of the responsibility for permitting this sort of attitude to continue, if not for fostering it (at least in the past, if not also in the present).

But what frightens me more is the thought that some women may actually be contributing to this attitude… even if not intentionally. That by putting on “sexy” costumes that encourage objectification, by flipping their hair or wearing makeup, by giggling instead of demanding an apology when insulted, by expecting or encouraging men to treat them as though they were delicate and pampered… that by doing all these things, women are actually encouraging men to think that we want to be objectified, that we want to be belittled or rescued or had everything done for us, that not only do we deserve to be insulted, but that we really like the attention we’re given when we’re insulted and abused.

I am not saying that women should cease wearing sexy clothes or makeup or even flipping their hair if they happen to like flipping their hair. But we should think about how we respond to actions that diminish us – and have the strength and courage to stand up against it when we can.

And that includes speaking up when we see tweets like these. It includes demanding that others around us become aware of the little ways in which they are allowing misogyny (and other forms of abuse) to pass by without even being aware of it – the current internet fetishizing of “rape” as a game-appropriate term is one example. It includes encouraging others to speak out against overt and covert abusiveness wherever they see it – online, in gameplay, in media, and in real life (where, to be completely honest, almost no one would even consider behaving in the way they seem to behave on the internet and in online games).

And this brings me back to a question I asked earlier about this – is it enough? I would like to think that this current flurry of feminist and misogynist outrage is a sign that things are coming to a head, that when the smoke clears, calm heads will prevail and things will improve. I’m hoping I’m not wrong.

Edit: To clarify – women should be able to wear and do whatever they want and expect to be treated like human beings. They should be able to wear heels and makeup and whatever else they want. So should men, frankly. My concern here is that women can be just as guilty of misogyny (intentional or unintentional) as men, and that we should all try to be more aware of when we’re perpetuating sexism and try not to – and that should apply equally to both men and women.