Anita Sarkeesian is back with another video showcasing how terrible it is to be a female in the gaming community. Oh no wait, this is different, this is a video where males of all races tell us how great it is to be a male gamer and lists 25 reasons.
To start, this is an opinion piece by the author indicated and does not represent the views of the publication or its staff.
Here’s the video
Now, I personally dislike Anita. I feel she’s simply enriching herself to the detriment of our industry. A very short history lesson.
Anita first entered the scene when she helped another small publication, Bitch, create an online series talking about women in popular culture. The series was a relative success and then Anita decided to go it alone and create a follow up. During her research she found that gaming was a cesspool of misogyny and so she started her Tropes vs Women in Videogames.
The series was kickstarted and due to some death threats and threats of rape that were widely publicised, it went on to earn her over $158 000. I want to make it clear right here and now – I in no way condone the treatment of Ms. Sarkeesian or any form of threats on the internet. This is abhorrent behavior that I often rant against in all its forms. It is unfortunate that she has had to experience that, even if the publicity ended up helping her reach her Kickstarter target.
One of her long lasting claims is that she’s always been interested in gaming and is a lifelong gamer. However as many people have pointed out this is simply not true as this video clearly shows.
Beyond my dislike of Anita Sarkeesian, I find the emphasis on women in gaming to be rather one-sided. I’m not saying that the treatment or role of women in gaming doesn’t deserve discussion, but that other issues such as racism or abuse in general shouldn’t be overshadowed or relegated to a side note. Just like in all industries, there are issues of discrimination against people of other races, genders, religious affiliations or sexual orientations – by shining a light so strongly on women in gaming, it can draw the assumption to some that the other issues simply aren’t as prevalent.
Give me 25 reasons
I just wanted to post the above so that we are clear where I stand on the issue regarding Anita. Now let’s look at the points raised in her latest video which actually come from this article posted in April this year.
I can choose to remain completely oblivious, or indifferent to the harassment that many women face in gaming spaces.
Anyone can remain oblivious to problems, you don’t need to be male for this. It also has nothing to do with being a gamer?
I am never told that video games or the surrounding culture is not intended for me because I am male.
No but I’m told it’s not for me because I’m an adult, married, old. I also get told that games like The Sims and Candy Crush aren’t real games
I can publicly post my username, gamertag or contact information online without having to fear being stalked or sexually harassed because of my gender.
Are you insane or just never been online? I’ve been abused countless times for being too good, too bad, stupid, ugly, african etc. People find a reason to abuse people, gender is just yet another thing that gets tossed about. As is sexuality.
I will never be asked to “prove my gaming cred” simply because of my gender.
I’ll give you this one, people assume men/boys are better at games. Unfortunately right now in the world that assumption is based in reality that the top gamers are mainly male.
If I enthusiastically express my fondness for video games no one will automatically assume I’m faking my interest just to “get attention” from other gamers.
There is a small and vocal group of petulant children who do this. I give them as much credit as I do Anita and her stance.
I can look at practically any gaming review site, show, blog or magazine and see the voices of people of my own gender widely represented.
There are many female gaming journalists whose views are widely represented. I for one rarely notice the gender of an author until they enter the realm of feminist discussions. When they are talking about gaming I really don’t care and I disagree that many people do.
When I go to a gaming event or convention, I can be relatively certain that I won’t be harassed, groped, propositioned or catcalled by total strangers.
I have been lucky enough to attend many gaming events and not once have I seen anything of the sort. Our own local female journalists have also not experienced this and they have attended international events as well. Of course this is purely anecdotal and there have been plenty of reported incidents of people experiencing this kind of harassment; I’m not trying to say that this doesn’t happen at all, but simply that neither I nor any male or female journalist I have dealt with has experienced this.
I will never be asked or expected to speak for all other gamers who share my gender.
One of the constant things that gets asked of me is whether or not “my husband/son would enjoy this game”. It’s a natural question from the opposite gender and they are simply looking for your opinion. You are not the spokesperson of your gender, just a member of it being asked a question.
I can be sure that my gaming performance (good or bad) won’t be attributed to or reflect on my gender as a whole.
Yeah mine’s normally attributed to my sexuality or what you were doing with my mother last night. It’s online banter, which I despise, and people will use what they think is your weakness to get to you. It’s also not a gaming specific problem; in cricket it’s called sledging and is massively popular at the top level.
My gaming ability, attitude, feelings or capability will never be called into question based on unrelated natural biological functions.
Again let’s go back to sexuality, athleticism, or even race. These three things are used every day against men all over the world to call into question their ability.
I can be relatively sure my thoughts about video games won’t be dismissed or attacked based solely on my tone of voice, even if I speak in an aggressive, obnoxious, crude or flippant manner.
I’m going to predict the future here: my thoughts will be attacked in the comment section below. I guarantee it. Also I guarantee that the people doing it didn’t read this line and don’t know why you responded ‘cookie’ to them.
I can openly say that my favorite games are casual, odd, non-violent, artistic, or cute without fear that my opinions will reinforce a stereotype that “men are not real gamers.”
As I said previously, men go through this as well. “real gamers” is a label that gets applied by people who need the gaming scene to validate their opinions of themselves. It’s not a male vs female thing.
When purchasing most major video games in a store, chances are I will not be asked if (or assumed to be) buying it for a wife, daughter or girlfriend.
I was in Animeworx this weekend buying some Skylanders for my girls and the, very nice, store clerk presumed and spoke to me as if I was buying it for my kids and not myself. Refer to previous points on real gamers and cute games.
The vast majority of game studios, past and present, have been led and populated primarily by people of my own gender and as such most of their products have been specifically designed to cater to my demographic.
The vast majority of businesses on this planet are led by males. This is absolutely nothing to do with gaming. Businesses make games that will sell, this is why Candy Crush exists and why my girls find hundreds of games that let you dress up dolls. The market exists so people make them. (PS: My girls also love Skyrim and COD) I think this debate is well explained by feminist Christina Sommers:
I can walk into any gaming store and see images of my gender widely represented as powerful heroes, villains and non-playable characters alike.
Lara Croft (Tomb Raider), Faith (Mirrors Edge), Chell (Portal), Samantha Byrne (Gears of War), Jill Valentine (Resident Evil)
I will almost always have the option to play a character of my gender, as most protagonists or heroes will be male by default.
Same point as the previous one.
I do not have to carefully navigate my engagement with online communities or gaming spaces in order to avoid or mitigate the possibility of being harassed because of my gender.
Same point as an earlier one, males get harassed as well.
I probably never think about hiding my real-life gender online through my gamer-name, my avatar choice, or by muting voice-chat, out of fear of harassment resulting from my being male.
Same as previous point
When I enter an online game, I can be relatively sure I won’t be attacked or harassed when and if my real-life gender is made public
Three times in a row, seriously?
If I am trash-talked or verbally berated while playing online, it will not be because I am male nor will my gender be invoked as an insult.
Four… How many unique points again?
While playing online with people I don’t know I won’t be interrogated about the size and shape of my real-life body parts, nor will I be pressured to share intimate details about my sex life for the pleasure of other players.
Penis, that is what people make fun of if you are male. Also we are often asked about our athleticism and ability to fight. If you are sharing intimate details about your sex life for the pleasure of others you are really hanging around the wrong people.
Complete strangers generally do not send me unsolicited images of their genitalia or demand to see me naked on the basis of being a male gamer.
This is true, but once you get the image you can easily get that person banned/arrested for abuse. It’s illegal and really quite easy to stamp out.
In multiplayer games I can be pretty sure that conversations between other players will not focus on speculation about my “attractiveness” or “sexual availability” in real-life.
This is the only one of the above that I have actually experienced online. It is rude and uncalled for and was shouted down relatively quickly. The problem, in my humble opinion, is our natural urge to mate and to find a mate. We are still animals no matter how many times we try to assure each other that we are not.
If I choose to point out sexism in gaming, my observations will not be seen as self-serving, and will therefore be perceived as more credible and worthy of respect than those of my female counterparts, even if they are saying the exact same thing.
No I will be told that I don’t understand because I’m not female. The only time my point about sexism in gaming will be accepted is if I agree with what you are saying. If a female disagrees with it they are called a token female and told they are only saying that to look cool to the guys.
Because it was created by a straight white male, this checklist will likely be taken more seriously than if it had been written by virtually any female gamer.
I think your entire list is fallacious – and did you feel the need to mention that you were straight? 99% of your readers really couldn’t care less about your sexuality.
Okay so why did I feel the need to talk about these 25 points? Because I feel Anita and her group are attacking and harassing members of the gaming community. I don’t feel she is looking to improve or fix anything in the community. She is making a lot of money from pretending that she is. The gaming community is made up of hundreds, if not thousands, of smaller communities and I can absolutely guarantee that you will find one that makes you feel perfectly at home.
I particularly despise the DOTA community as I find it massively racist, homophobic and abusive to newcomers. That opinion doesn’t make it a fact and I simply avoid the community. A large part of the Call of Duty community annoys me so I generally mute everyone before starting the games.
We all don’t have to like everyone and get on with everyone. We also don’t need to change our stances and opinions in life simply because it offends someone. The interconnected online world of gaming now joins people all over the world. There will be problems but these problems are not limited to, or even largely attributed to being female.
I simply do not agree that a good looking, white, university educated woman living in a first world country with all the freedoms that come with that is the best person to call males privileged and imply that being white and female is more of a problem than being a part of any other racial, sexual or religious minority. Anita is attacking those she sees as privileged without recognizing her own privileges; she has done a great job of marketing herself on an issue that I don’t feel really affects her personally.
I am not saying there is no problem here – there is an issue of sexism in gaming. I’m saying that I don’t feel Anita is in any way solving or helping to resolve that problem. I, for one, am sick and tired of people implying I’m the problem because I’m male. I am a strong supporter of women and people of all backgrounds – how could I be a loving husband or father to two young women otherwise?
Feel free to leave your opinions or responses below, and my personal twitter account is linked at the top. I do love the abuse I get on there so feel free to share it if you disagree or I’ve offended you.
Last Updated: December 3, 2014