“Woman like Anita”: What’s (Not) Wrong with Critical Fandom

21 Mar

About a week or so ago, I received a new comment on an old TLF post on Anita Sarkeesian’s “Tropes vs. Women in Videogames” project. The original post was written before Sarkeesian actually released any of her videos (there are subsequent posts on TLF that talk about each video once they were released), and has garnered more attention than any other post I’ve made at TLF, which bothers me a little if only because it’s since been dated by the release of Sarkeesian’s videos (Post #2, Post #3, Post #4)  and I’d like to see people follow the conversation, not react to the original post. But that little complaint aside…

This most recent comment bothers me quite a bit, and I was having trouble figuring out why, exactly, since it’s a far cry from the kind of internet troll harassment that people talking about Sarkeesian’s work usually get (i.e. no threats or demands for sandwiches). However, there are several things about it that bother me.

First, the assumption that “No one has yet come to the realization that this anita sarkiseen woman has done it for the attention and the money? Thanks internet for giving this woman a free ride in cash and picks with universities” is irrelevant. Yes, Sarkeesian is making money with this series. So what? People make money doing what they do for a living. This is what she does for a living. The idea that somehow her publicizing her work and speaking about it in public is a sign of corruption is ludicrous. I talk about gender and games, I publish about games, I teach about games, and part of the reason I get paid is because of that. It’s my job. Sarkeesian may be self-employed, but talking about “Tropes vs. Women” is nevertheless her job and she should get paid for it, irrespective of whether or not anyone agrees with her opinions.

Second, this sentence: “Woman like Anita are a waste of time and nothing more than a media-eyelight eyesore forcing their way on how games should be.” Any sentence that contains the phrase “Wom[e]n like…” should immediately set off warning bells, since it presumes that the gender of the person doing something is relevant (hint: it usually isn’t). In addition, the idea that anyone‘s opinion on “how games should be” shouldn’t be made available to the general public is absurd. Anyone who plays games or wants to play games is allowed, by virtue of being human, to have an opinion about what they think “games should be.” That doesn’t mean the industry is going to listen to them, but they’re welcome to declare their opinion anyway.

Third, the commenter claims that “This is why innovation in games is getting more stale and less appealing to because of those like Anita, who believe the game world should be the real world and reflect their wants and needs.” Um. The game world does and should reflect the real world and reflect the “wants and needs” of the people who play in it. That doesn’t mean that all game worlds are going to reflect the “wants and needs” of Sarkeesian, but that there ought to be game worlds that do – as well as game worlds that do not. Gaming is a new medium in the grand scheme of media, so it’s still (slowly) playing catch-up on this one, but other forms of popular culture (tv, movies, books) already reflect multiple worlds and worldviews, and it’s not only appropriate and desirable, but inevitable that game worlds will, too. Hopefully sooner rather than later.

Finally, this:

Selfish americans are what is the true underline issues, not guppy-politics on how the smallest inch of mesh fabric on a female game model is a derangement to all the poor and unfortunate real-life woman out there. We waste so much of our money, time, and attention on things like optional video-games that don’t matter in the whole-run where us as a nation is actually going. Instead we’re like brainless sheep, following the face of random feminist women or anyone that tickles our ears with their ideas and agendas. We have become color-coded followers of the popular social “norms” of those who just want to ram their ideals quiet frankly, up our butts. I surely do miss old america, the new america is nothing more than a joke.

This commenter clearly has no concept of how popular culture reflects and shapes society, and I’m fairly certain I’m not going to be able to convince him (presumably) that it does, since he appears to be one of those people who doesn’t realize that his opinions about the universe have been constructed by his life-long exposure to media (including games) and society. Clearly his opinions were plopped into his brain by Truth Itself. That aside, the commenter claims to be above the rest of us who “waste” our time and money on games, yet has obviously decided to “waste” his time reading and then commenting on a post about gaming because he clearly does consider it important.

I am also curious what, exactly, “old america” is supposed to be. America in the 1950s when women were meant to stay in the kitchen providing for their husbands and children, and suffered from severe depression as a result of oppressive social norms? The 1850s, when slavery was still legal? Or maybe 1776, when the Founding Fathers chose to create a nation based on the very principles of free speech that the commenter seems to think apply only to him and not to me or to Sarkeesian?

Yes, it is true that people who are in extreme poverty should care more about food than videogames. But the vast majority of Americans are not – fortunately for us – in that category and do choose to dispose of our time by playing games (I’d imagine, the commenter included). And since we do, it is not only our right, but our responsibility as socially conscious and conscientious individuals to make sure that medium represents our viewpoints and does positive work toward the shaping of our sociopolitical ideals. Popular culture shapes our world in far more ways than we even realize, and taking responsibility for demanding that pop culture be accountable to its audience is a vital part of our society’s ideological formation. Yes, there are other very important concerns: education, poverty, crime, etc., but games (like any other popular media) impact the abstract ones: racism, sexism, homophobia. And if we can use games to change our society to become less bigoted, then that is a laudable and valuable goal.

Do I think that Anita Sarkeesian is the best person to do that? Probably not. But she is doing it, or at least trying to, and the very fact that her voice is out there and public has perhaps done more in the last few years for starting the conversation about gender equality in the gaming industry than a lot of other, less controversial and less public voices. Ultimately, I guess my stance has changed since that first TLF post: I’m a feminist gamer, and I’m all about Anita Sarkeesian.

Edit: Cross-posted on TLF.

6 Replies to ““Woman like Anita”: What’s (Not) Wrong with Critical Fandom

  1. Thank you for writing these articles on Sarkeesian and feminism as it pertains to gaming. I am so sick of reading that she’s either a saint or a creature of purest evil. I was initially excited when I read about what she planned to do, but have been disappointed in what she’s produced. I was expecting something much more academic than the content I’ve seen. While I agree with her premises and am annoyed by the sexism in a number of games, I find her analysis to be unfair in that she only seems to point out negative representations of women while not acknowledging positive ones (aside from a few smaller/indie titles). I like that she’s calling attention to these issues, but her analysis of games seems to be very binary. Some of the titles she’s singled out don’t deserve the negativity, and I’m very happy to see someone pointing this out. People need more than a list of what not to play. What she does isn’t encouraging women (or people who dislike sexism) to play games. Many of the titles she singles out are great games that appeal to broad audiences. Attracting a more diverse group of gamers is the most important step in bringing about any change in the industry. If I weren’t already a gamer, Anita’s videos might convince me I didn’t want to be.

    • Thank you for your comment!

      I do think that her series is improving, even though it’s still far from perfect, she’s getting her feet under her and starting to be more thoughtful and critical rather than just “laundry-listing” things. I just hope she keeps heading in the right direction.

  2. 1. Kickstarter lies

    Before Anita started her Kickstarter campaign she held a talk where she said she was being harassed by a organized group of 4chan members for months. She said these 4chan members subscribed to her channel so they would know when she released new videos so they could attack her. The type of comments she said she received were sexual insults, death threats & rape threats. She said sometimes she got together with a friend to read through the comments because it would get overwhelming. She says that she probably has the biggest block list on Youtube and anytime they leave any anti feminist, harassing, or threating comment they would be blocked. She said that she had gotten use to these kinds of comments. She said she monitored her Youtube comment section so the only comments that were allowed to be shown had to be approved by her.

    She lunched her Kickstarter campaign and made a Youtube video for the campaign. She for the first time allowed comments on her video. she makes a post on her website entitled Harassment, Misogyny and Silencing on YouTube. She says this in the post.

    “Here is a very small sample of the harassment I deal with for daring to criticize sexism in video games. Keep in mind that all this is in response to my Kickstarter project for a video series called Tropes vs. Women in Video Games (which I have not even made yet). These are the types of silencing tactics often used against women on the internet who dare to speak up. But don’t worry it won’t stop me!”

    “These messages and comments have included everything from the typical sandwich and kitchen “jokes” to threats of violence, death, sexual assault and rape.”


    She says that all of these comments are because of her Kickstarter campaign because she dares to speak critically about video games. These statements completely contradict what she said before she started her Kickstarter campaign. Before her Kickstarter she said she was systemically being harassed by people on 4chan and that among the things they said to her were sexual insults, death threats & rape threats and sometimes it was so overwhelming she read them with a friend as a way to cope with it and she had gotten use to it by that point. So she leaves comments open on her youtube kickstarter video which is something she never did before and she was surprised by the negative comments but how can she be surprised by the same type of comments she was receiving long before she launched her Kickstarter. When she started her Kickstarter and left her comments open she knew exactly what the comments were going to be like because she been receiving them for months prior. So when she says during her Kickstarter that all of the negative comments were because of her Kickstarter campaign she’s lying.


    2. Other Lies

    She says that Grand Theft Auto and Saint Row encourage players to kill women by giving players money for killing random female NPCs.

    “some games explicitly incentive and reward this kind of behavior by having murdered women drop bundles of cash for the player to collect and add to their own stash”

    The truth is money is dropped by any NPC that is killed in the games and has nothing to do with gender.

    She says that the female stripper NPCs from Hitman Absolution were put their because the developer wanted players to kill them. The game discourages players from killing innocent civilians by taking away points. The whole point of the game is to sneak by people and keep unnecessary killing to a minimum while moving toward killing your intended target not to kill random strippers and lose points for doing so. The path to the strippers is one of two paths that the player can take. The path to the strippers is the harder of the two paths to take. The other path that the player can take is easier and doesn’t involve coming near the strippers at all.

    She also says this in her Background Decoration video.

    “their status as disposable objects is reinforced by the fact that in most games discarded bodies will simply vanish into thin air a short time after being killed”

    She tries to tie disappearing bodies as something that only happens to female NPCs but it has nothing to do with gender its just something that happens in a lot of games irregardless of gender because of limited ram Capacity and not having the game slow down because of bodies pilling up.


    shes a life long gamer
    at a Santa Monica College in California back in early 2010 Anita says that she’s not a fan of video games and she had to learn a lot about them. she says that she would love to play video games but she doesn’t what to go around shooting people and ripping off their heads. During and after her Kickstarter she says that shes been playing video games since she was 5 years old and shes a life long gamer. How can she be a lifelong gamer if she said pre Kickstarter that she doesn’t like video games specifically because she thinks that all games are violent. If she’s a lifelong gamer than what has she been playing all of this time and why does she thinks all video games are violent. She obviously not a lifelong gamer and only said that as a way to try and give herself more credibility.


    In her damsel video she said Zelda was never a playable character in a console game. Zelda was playable in the CDI games Zelda: The Wand of Gamelon & Zelda’s Adventure. I am not saying these are good games but they are console games where Zelda was the star of her own adventure.

    She says that gaming is all boys club and women have until recently been barred from playing games. This is untrue their has never been anything stopping girls from playing games. Most game genres are not gender excluding. Racing, fighting, beat em up, real time strategy, role playing, puzzle, point and click, action adventure, platformers, MMO, Simulation, rhythm action.

    Women have been involved in the making of games for years. Theirs been female programmers, artist, composers, designer, CEO, etc. Women have also been involved in the journalism side of things as well. This false narrative that Anita’s trying to push that games have somehow excluded women until recently is a lie that she tells to try to push her gender base agenda.

    The other thing that she tries to push is the ideal that man are trying to keep women from playing or criticizing games. Both things are false but she keeps to that script so she can fight against the imagery boogie man that she created and so she can justify the existences of her video series.

    Anita omitted the fact that she has connections to the developer of the game sword and sworcery but I am sure that has noting to do with the reason why she chose that game’s character as a positive female even though it contradicts her previous videos.


    3. Poor Research

    In dismals in distress she said that peach was added to Mario 2 to fill a per existing gender role that existed in the original game Doki Doki Panic except for the fact that her own footage clearly shows that two females were playable in Doki Doki Panic. If she did further research like actually playing the game than she would know that it wasn’t just one girl in Doki Doki Panic. The core concept that Anita doesn’t understand about games is the fact that graphics assist can be replaced with anything. In fan made mods the cast of Super Mario Bros 2 have been replaced by numerous things like Star Wars ships, Pokemon, Transformers, Spider-Man villains, etc.



    In Women as Background Decoration Anita says this

    “In order to understand how this works lets take a moment to examine how video game operate as playgrounds for player engagement. Games ask us to play with them. Now that may seem obvious but bear with me. game developers set up a series of rules and then within those rules we are invited to test the mechanics to see what we can do and what we can’t do. We are encouraged to experiment with how the system will react or respond to our inputs and discover which of our actions are permitted and which are not. The play comes from figuring out the boundaries and possibility within the gamespace. So in many of the titles we’ve been discussing the game makers have setup a series of possible scenarios involving vulnerable eroticized female characters. Players are than invited to explore and exploit those situations during their play through. The player cannot help but treat these female bodies as things to be acted upon. Because they were designed constructed and placed in the environment for that singular purpose. Players are meant to derive a perverse pleasure from desecrating the bodies of unsuspecting virtual female characters. Its a rush streaming from a carefully concocted mix of sexual arousal connected to the act of controlling and punishing representations of female sexuality.”

    Theirs two basic concepts that she doesn’t understand. The first one is that games are interactive so players can do things that developers never intended players to be able to do. The second is the fact that games have bugs in them which also allows players to do things that the developers never intending for them to do.

    For example in Halo 2 players can do button combos. Button combo is a sequence of buttons that, when pressed in order, results in the execution of an exploit. Typical button combos take advantage of unforeseen attributes of certain actions. Some actions, such as meleeing, can disrupt animations for firing and reloading weapons, performing melees, etc. By chaining these and other actions, players can perform special tricks, such as automatic Plasma Grenade sticks and instant close-range kills. However, many players disapprove of such “cheap” exploitations, and Bungie has declared these combos all as cheating and therefore banworthy


    Another example is in early versions of arcade Mortal Kombat 2. Players figured out how to hit babies after performing Babalitys.


    By Anita’s logic midway endorses child abuse because players tested the bounders of the game and were able to interact with the objects (babies) in the game that were put their by the developer. So that clearly means that the developer supports any action the players can do in the game including hitting babies. Or it can just mean that games are interactive and filled with glitches and just because a player can do something in a game doesn’t automatically mean that the developer endorsed it or even meant for player to be able to do it.

    In her Bayonetta video she complains about Bayonetta clothes coming off when she summons demons. she doesn’t acknowledge or knows that Bayonetta’s hair is also her cloths so that’s why her cloths disappears when she summons demons. She also makes the claim that Bayonetta is fighting demons when in fact Bayonetta is actually fighting angles. She also says that Bayonetta has a child except for the fact that Bayonetta doesn’t have any children. She claims that Bayonetta is a “choose your own patriarchal adventure porno fantasy.” Lets take a second to look at what the word Patriarchy means. Patriarchy is a social system in which males hold primary power, predominate in roles of political leadership, moral authority, social privilege and control of property. So how is Bayonetta a game in which players play as a strong women who is always in control of a situation and is more powerful than any man in the game enforcing ideals of Patriarchy. Bayonetta is not a choose your own adventure type game nor is it a porno.

    She says this in a tweet

    “Everything about Bayonetta’s design, mechanics and characterization is created specifically for the sexual pleasure of straight male gamers”

    Bayontta was design by a women



    McIntosh said this on twatter about the Witcher.

    “Geralt from Witcher 3 is emotionally deficient in the extreme. Never cries or laughs. Never expresses grief, fear, sadness or vulnerability.”

    Witchers are unable to express emotions on their faces because of the training that is involed to become a Witcher. Taken in as children, Witchers-to-be are subjected to intense alchemical processes, consumption of mutagenic compounds and relentless physical and magical training to make them dangerous and highly versatile against their vast array of opponents.



    “In the beginning of “Women as Background Decoration: Part 2,” Sarkeesian references a scene from Dragon Age’s City Elf Origin story, in which a group of guards make disturbing sexual comments over the player character’s dead female companion. Sarkeesian implies that BioWare’s narrative is built on the “brutalization of women’s bodies,” using dead women “as an indicator of just how harsh, cruel, and unforgiving their game worlds are.”

    “However, the female elf’s treatment is better understood as a thematic commentary on systematic misogynistic violence. Both women and elves are confined to strict socioeconomic roles within the origin story, as the brutal city government uses institutional force in order to keep women and elves oppressed. Essentially, the game explores the use of sexual violence as a form of violent oppression within a misogynistic institutional structure. Yet, Sarkeesian and McIntosh misread this moment – ignoring a critical look at misogynistic oppression within Dragon Age’s narrative.”

    “Sarkeesian has criticized the postmodern video game Hotline Miami for utilizing the “Damsel in Distress” trope. However, Feminist Frequency’s analysis completely erases the game’s subversion of the trope – as the narrative’s “damsel” seems to be held hostage by the player, and avenging her death produces no reward. Indeed, writers such as Maddy Myers have dissented from Sarkeesian and McIntosh’s analysis – praising Hotline Miami as a postmodern exploration of hypermasculinity which subverts the “damsel” trope.”


    4. Things taking out of context

    She shows footage of Fallout New Vegas where a womens body is being dragged around with psychic powers and says that games often permits women to be knockout, pickup, carried and thrown around. All of these things can be done to male NPCs as well. She also says that assault, mutilating & murder can be done to women in games but all of those same things can be done to male NPCs as well. She tries to use these things as examples of sexism towards women but its not sexism if the same thing can be done to male NPCs.

    She claims that the objectification of female NPCs is terrible.

    “Unlike other NPCs that exist for purposes outside of their sexuality, Non-Playable Sex Objects have little to no individual personality or identity to speak of. since these women are just objects there’s no need or reason for players to have any emotional engagement with them. meaningful relations or interactions are not even possible. Their programming simply does not allow for it.”

    She tries to say this is unique to female NPCs. The lack of deep personalities, non emotional engagement or meaningful relations is true of all Pedestrian NPCs male or female.

    “when assaulted by the player non playable sex objects might scream. but regardless of their canned automated reaction they are will designed to be expendable to be used and then tossed out.”

    Same thing is true for male NPCs as well.

    In background decoration she talks about female character being objectified while showing footage of the main protagonist from Watch Dogs in the process of shutting down a human trafficking ring.

    In her background decoration video she said this.

    “In the realm of interactive media I use the term “instrumentailty” to refer to the practice of using virtual women as tools or props for the players own purposes. Courtesans in the Assassins Creed series, for instance, are available to be “rented” and used to help you “blend in” to the environment. Once acquired, they can be ordered to flirt with guards to distract them. Allowing the protagonist to slip by undetected. ”

    The courtesans were one of the four factions allied to the Assassin Order, with the other three being the thieves, mercenaries and Romanies. They usually aided the Order by collecting information from clients, or by acting as distractions and allowing allies to slip into restricted areas.

    The player can also hire male thieves & mercenaries to aid them with blending into a environments and killing. So is using man as Tools bad as well or is it only bad when it happens to women in Assassin Creeed.


    Anita and mcintosh purposely says controversial things on tweeter to provoke a negative reaction from people so they can use the response to prove Anita’s continued harassment. mcintosh even admits to purposely provoking gamers with his comments.


    Here’s an example of Anita provoking a reaction from people and using the response as a example of her continued harassment to coincide with a Kickstarter update.

    You only have to watch the first 3 minutes.

    Lets take a look at some of these comments.

    “A few months ago I started posting deliberately provocative tweets whenever I’d see the angry gamer mod launch a harassment raid on someone”

    “I’d only post things I basically agreed with, but I did it in an overtly antagonizing way designed to enrage these specific hateful gamers”

    “The goal was to see if I could draw some of their fire & distract them a bit from their usual targets. It worked like a charm. It still is”

    “Its shockingly easy to drive these bozos into frothing fits of rage. Simply tweet critically about their beloved Ico, MGS or Bayonetta”


    “not a coincidence it’s always men and boys committing mass shootings. the pattern is connected to ideas of toxic masculinity in our culture”

    “manhood, not guns or mental illness should be central in newtown shooting must read 2012 article by @ jacksontkatz huffingtonpost.com”

    “mass shootings are one of tragic consequence of a culture that perpetuates toxic ideas of masculinity. this is how patriarchy can harm men too”

    “there’s no such thing as sexism against men. that’s because sexism is prejudice + power. men are the dominant gender with power in society”

    “games press: allowing unmoderated comments contributes to the culture of sexism and harassment. you can’t be neutral on a moving train”

    “Absolutely brilliant article by @janelarejones discussing the amazing levels of sexism in BBC #sherlock’s irene adler”

    “I finally watched the 1st season of Mad Men & i was HORRIFIED, it is not interesting or subversive to watch uncontested sexism & racism”

    “I’ll be discussing the reasons Bayonetta is so pernicious in my Fighting Fuck Toy video. Bayonetta is a quintessential example of the trope”

    “Everything about Bayonetta’s design, mechanics and characterization is created specifically for the sexual pleasure of straight male gamers”

    “Disappointed to see most major Bayonetta 2 reviews completely ignore or even praise its shameless sexism and flagrant use of the male gaze”

    “I have to say, I really don’t like going into comic book stores because everywhere i turn i face misogyny and sexism”

    “the US bombed them back to traditional values. feminism does not exist in Japan. while I don’t like judging an entire culture, that does not excuse them”

    “I’ve played a ton of awful sexist video games but God of War 3 really is one of the most brazenly misogynist titles ever produced”

    “GTA5 is in the news this week because of its horrendous violence against women. Watch our episode on the issue here:”

    “A favorite harassment tactic of online abusers is to send me gameplay footage or still images of the degradation of women in video games”

    “Rockstar: when gameplay from your product is regularly used to harass women it might be a sign you’re contributing to a hostile environment”

    “time after new GTA launch before fans started harassing me with gameplay of the use & murder of prostitutes? 86 mins”

    Shows a picture of her holden Metroid Other M and comments
    “About to replay this monstrosity. The things I do for you people…#cringe

    “Anime is the most disgusting, sexist, and misogynistic form of media to ever come out of Japen. Anime defiles women and caters to perverts and losers. those cartoons are corrupting teenagers and promoting rape culture.

    “Dying Light has a damsel in distress storyline. Dear game developers, its 2015 aren’t you embarrassed by this yet?”

    “The Witcher 3 does to Ciri what Arkham City did to Catwoman Thugs yell “bitch” and “whore” and sexually harass both women as you play them”

    “Welp, I guess we could just use The Witcher 3 to illustrate the rest of our #tropevswomen series because it includes all the sexist tropes”

    “Also the “it’s realistic for enemies to sexually harass female characters” excuse is nonsense in fantasy games filled with ghouls & wraiths”

    “Dear gaming industry: If you want to appeal to women maybe consider not having your game yell “bitch” and “whore” at us while we’re playing”

    “Enemies in Witcher 3 yall gendered insults at the playable female character but insults thrown at the make lead are decidedly not gendered”

    “Enemies call Geralt “freak” & “mutant” due to fictional prejudice against magic. When they call Ciri “cunt” it’s rooted in real life sexism”

    “Games like The Witcher 3 use sexism & sexual violence for “gritty world-building, presenting it as regrettable but natural and inevitable”

    “In fact, Witcher 3 is a particularly egregious example of this problem. The game repeatedly uses brutal sexual violence as window dressing.”

    “This level of extreme violence shouldn’t be considered normal. Its not an excuse to say it’s expected because DOOM. Thats the problem #BE3”

    “Its really troubling (and depressing) that the #BE3 audience is enthusiastically cheering for bodies being ripped apart”

    “Only a few minutes into the Bethesda press conference and it’s wall to wall glorification of grotesque violence. I can barely watch #BE3”

    “If the games industry truly wants to mature it’s going to have to focus much more on creative and humanizing interactions #E32015”

    “The #Fallout4 crafting system is cool imagine how much cooler it could be if it wasn’t SO focused on building stuff to kill other stuff”

    A bit sad that #Dishonored2 didn’t make the leap to an exclusively female lead but really pleased they’re using Emily in marketing #BE3

    “Saints Row is not a satire of sexism, it’s sexist satire. Same goes for the Grand Theft Auto franchise”

    “Like the myth of reverse racism, reverse sexism only exists if you happen to have a time machine”

    “Portraying women of color as exotic, hypersexual and animalistic like the succbi in the Witcher 3 is part of a very long racist tradition”

    “It makes me profoundly sad that mainstream pop culture now interprets feminism to mean “women can drive fast and stoically kill people too!”


    “San Francisco is full of repugnant white dudes who believe capitalism and their personal technology idea will save the poor brown people”

    “probably not super productive to tell random techie dudes that their business model is both evil and racist. but damn it they had it coming”

    “dear silicon valley tech startups: there is no such thing as altruistic capitalism. you can’t get rich while “helping” impoverished people.”

    “They are 100% sincere in their belief that their form of “altruistic techie capitailsm” is god’s gift to the world”

    “capitalism as an economic system and the continuous growth it requires is impossible to sustain. that’s not ideology. that’s math #ows”

    “the games industry has a problem. Tens of thousands of people construct their identity around its products than act like hateful sociopaths”

    “#JeNeSuisPasCharlie because I don’t use my free speech to mock and deride the most marginalized and vulnerable in society like Charlie Habdo”

    “Extremist vigilante shooters kill 3 in Los Vegas. meanwhile game developers at #E3 continue to glorify extreme vigilante violence”

    “Gaming could be a perfect medium to help re-learn values of empathy and compassion but sadly it’s most often used to permote the opposite”

    “I’m not ashamed of being a man. Quite the contrary, I work to change toxic cultural ideas of what “being a man” means”

    “so many toxic assumptions about violent masculinity here. You could write a thesis just about this game setting menu”

    “Things that are not oppression:3) Pointing out extremely toxic sexism in hobbyist communities. 4) Criticism of video games”

    “It’s not a few bad apples. Gamer culture itself is absolutely steeped in extremely toxic ideals about masculinity”

    “Each day a bunch of helpful gamer dudes helpfully tweet at me to help prove gamer culture is deeply sexist and toxic”

    “Dear clueless gamers replying to me: The point of Male protagonist Bingo is not to win, the point is to illustrate limiting toxic patterns”

    “Many promote a culture of aggressive toxic masculinity. So you just helped answer your own question there buddy”

    “I’ve seen some mention the abundant sexism in The Witcher 3 but I’ve yet to see any real discussion of its toxic depiction of masculinity.”

    “Geralt of Rivia is the perfect embodiment of hegemonic masculinity. #TheWitcher3”

    “@Scottcoeditor Rage and anger are two of the only emotions men are really allowed to express in patriarchy (which is super unhealthy).”

    “Anger and rage are the only real emotional expressions male game protagonists are allowed. Needless to say that’s a toxic message for men.”

    “Mass media narratives, especially games, are often constructed in ways that justify and exonerate men for their angry and violent outbursts.”

    “Reminder that both Bayonetta games include boss attack animations by Rodin which strongly imply Bayonetta has just been raped.”

    “If anyone needed further proof that Bayonetta is not any kind of feminist icon. RT @SJWIlluminati: hahahahahahahaha ”

    “We’ve fallen so far in critical discourse that I now regularly have to start debates with “You do know Bayonetta isn’t a real person right?”

    “@TheQuinnspiracy It also has a lot to do with control. They can control Bayonetta’s actions but can’t control human women, so they lash out.”

    “Don’t think Bayonetta is designed & marketed specifically for horny straight dudes? Nintendo partnered with Playboy. ”

    “Lollipop Chainsaw, BloodRayne, Dead or Alive and Bayonetta are ALL designed in the same way, as hyper-sexualized fantasies for straight men.”

    “Precisely. RT @mercurypixel: @radicalbytes Welp, they talk about Bayonetta like she’s a freaking real human being, so… don’t expect much.”

    “Bayonetta was created by Hideki Kamiya as his “ideal woman”. He also said “all women outside should dress like her” for his viewing pleasure”

    “Bayonetta was created by Kamiya as his “ideal woman” RT @Brostalgia In fact Mari was told by her male boss to male a sexy fighting character”

    “Amazed to see sexist gamer dudes now adopting feminist terminology to defend jiggle physics. We can thank Bayonetta 2 reviews for that one.”

    “Media literacy 101: Bayonetta’s creators make their fictional character do poses for the game camera specifically for the player’s benefit.”

    “No it’s really not. Bayonetta’s game camera is the most transparent use of the male gaze in video games I’ve ever seen.”

    “Actual comment. Doesn’t understand fiction is constructed. “Stop sluts-haming Bayonetta. She fights and does sexy poses for her own benefit”

    “I shouldn’t have to point this out but there is no actual sex in Bayonetta or Tomb Raider etc. Objection to the male gaze is not anti-sex.”

    “@a_man_in_black Bayonetta’s body/sexuality is specifically presented and displayed as a reward for successful actions taken by the player.”

    “@a_man_in_black Might account for the “i/her” dissonance if straight male players both self-project into & are sexually aroused by Bayonetta”

    “@a_man_in_black Partly has to do with gender. Bayonetta is designed for straight male players but we’re not meant to truly identify with her”

    “The special “naked” attacks essentially turn Bayonetta into a hypersexualized puppet designed to thrill the puppeteer.”

    “For male gaze in Bayonetta 2, pay attention to things outside of the character’s control like the cutscene camera & player directed attacks.”

    “Looks like most Bayonetta 2 reviews fail to mention the hyper-sexualized male gaze of the cutscene camera and player directed strip attacks.”

    “When Bayonetta 2 reviews come out we’ll very quickly see who actually cares about issues of sexual objectification & exploitation in gaming.”

    “Endlessy amused at some gamers complete inability to do even the most basic textual analyses of their favorite games. # MaleProtagonistBingo”

    “For those who keep bringing up Sonic as a counterexample for Male Protagonist Bingo. I’ll just leave this right here”

    “The core value of patriarchal masculinity is control. It’s not a coincidence that control is central to many video game mechanics & stories”

    “Fascination that you somehow don’t think there’re any messages in Smash Bros. Start with violence solves conflicts”

    “Amused to see so many hateful #gobbledygate user list aspiring game developer in their bio. Yeah good luck with that. You’re gonna need it”

    • I am approving this comment in the interest of open discussion, with a very particular caveat: this is an OLD discussion, and most of the points are no longer immediately germane to the conversations happening RIGHT NOW about feminism and women in gaming, and I have no interest in engaging in a lengthy debate about any of this. The remainder of this reply is intended for the public who might see it, NOT explicitly for the author of the comment to which I am replying.

      Approving this comment is not agreement with all or any of the points made, and – to be honest – I did not read them all terribly closely due to the somewhat screed-like nature of the comment. Some of the points made have validity, and some of them I have made myself (in part) in other places. But let it be known that this is NOT an invitation to Sarkeesian-bash on this blog, as that is not something I’m interested in seeing (criticism, yes, bashing, no). In part, this comment was approved because it engaged with material in a (mostly) respectful manner and made points about the content of the series.

      All that said, this is not an invitation for others to jump on the GG-bandwagon and start spouting anti-Sarkeesian nonsense. Thoughtful and respectful criticism using evidence (or links to evidence to keep the size of comments reasonable) only, please. If you can’t be thoughtful or nice about commenting, please refrain from doing so, as such comments will not see the digital light of day.

  3. Any sentence that contains the phrase “Wom[e]n like…” should immediately set off warning bells, since it presumes that the gender of the person doing something is relevant (hint: it usually isn’t).


    In this case I think the gender is actually important. Young women interested in a career in gaming look for role models, and what do they see? Women who are famous for being victims. “Women like Anita”. The only women that get any press coverage are those who are subjected to all manner of horrible treatment. Sarkeesian, Quinn, Wu, et al. are all household names, why? Because of harassment.

    None of the women who actually make games or work on projects without any social media presence get any press (I’m sorry, no, the games of Ms. Wu and Ms. Quinn are really pretty lackluster). Why don’t games journalists have a “Woman of the Month” at their outlets where they can feature /heretofore unknown women/ who are doing wonderful things?

    It is important not to hide when there is harassment, because it signals that the issue is being taken seriously; I bet young women thinking of a career in gaming care to see that. But, I have to wonder if we’ve reached the point where we’re actually scaring more young women from gaming by this inordinate focus on Famous Victims. You attract more flies with honey than vinegar, no?

    Journalists should be going out of their way to discuss and laud the great successes of women in gaming. Because we are interested in making gaming a more female friendly space, I don’t think there is anything wrong with a sentence starting out as “women like Anita” because the “women like Anita” send the message that if you get subjected to enough acts of criminal harassment you’ll become famous….but otherwise if you learn to code like a boss or diligently manage a games project, there’s no guarantee anyone will ever learn your name. There is something wrong with that.

    Just my $0.02

    • Overall, I think you’re absolutely right. I still think the phrase “Women like…” puts up red flags, however, simply because of who us *usually* using it. Is it important to have women talking about games as an example? Yes, absolutely, with you 100%. But in context, Sarkeesian’s gender has nothing to do with her ability or right to comment on games, which the original commenter implied that it did. So yes, her gender identity is important overall – something I didn’t clarify in my rage – just not in the way that the commenter implies. 🙂

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