Feminist Frequency: Twitter vs Female Protagonists in Video Games



Above is a tweet I made this afternoon in reaction to the fact that none of the games presented at Microsoft’s Xbox One E3 press conference featured female protagonists. Below are some of the Twitter replies to that observation which exemplify the male privilege and male entitlement endemic in the gaming community today. This is also a window into what it’s like to be a female video game critic on twitter.

1. @simplyflyinimage

2. @A_Hint_of_Shitimage

3. @Triosemimage

4. @DavidBostock93image

5. @Jamie_Breretonimage

6. @SethForsmanimage

7. @Beefheart82image

8. @AzEHeaD15image

9. @NickFuckypuimage

10. @JLB_esquireimage

11. @MathiasKaizerimage

12. @About20Donutsimage

13. @RogerLateralusimage

14. @izashid29image

15. @BEATandDELETEimage

16. @B_Razzimage

17. @twerk_king69image

18. @Epsilon_Fiveimage

19. @Spyrolicimage

20. @itwasagoodtimeimage

21. @JerkfaceMcGeeimage

22. @patq911image

23. @r0bz0rzimage

24. @JimPheeimage

25. @Pootslapimage

26. @Pokefan1223image

27. @Auriniimage

28. @yuttimage

29. @HennersQuackimage

30. @GabeAsterdimage

31. @MundaBricimage

32. @DoctorWatkinsimage

33. @xTheShad0wZimage

34. @GangWarlordimage

35. @le_mecimage

36. @coolguyquietessimage

37. @OldMileyimage

38. @TheChad118image

39. @dodgykebaabimage

40. @urafagetimage

41. @BJ_Dicksonimage

42. @Bloodergoimage

43. @Uneternalimage

44. @The_Master_Eimage

45. @TheVidyaBoyimage

46. @danier_sanimage

47. @ReissDJOimage

48. @mrdizzyimage

49. @IntelMinerimage

50. @AliAdelMohamedimage



Each and every time I read comments like the ones above, I am floored. Even though I know that there are people out there who operate this way, I am continuously baffled by how they don’t spontaneously combust or some shit.

Sexism, Cyber Harassment and Gaming Culture: The Kickstarter Incident

In case you haven’t heard, Anita Sarkeesian of Feminist Frequency recently started a Kickstarter to fund a video series on sexism in video games. It’s an important topic that I think anyone who legitimately enjoys gaming and cares about equality can agree needs addressing. I love Feminist Frequency. Anita always says well researched, smart and insightful things about women in the media. Her series on gender and LEGO offered tons of awesome historical information, and I directed anyone interested in SPARK’s LEGO campaign to the series, as it served as a fabulous overview of the issue. I have occasionally disagreed with Anita’s points, but that’s fine, because she’s awesome and funny and 99.9% of the time, dead on accurate. As for a Feminist Frequency series on video games? Sounds like a great idea. And I’m sure it’s going to be balanced and well thought out. But I’m going to talk about something that happened to Anita after she launched the campaign. You can read all about it here and here, but to summarize, some disgusting shit went down.

Anita was subject to a targeted campaign of threats and online harassment organized by several online gaming forums.

I have two things to say about this. The first is that Anita, myself, and just about any women who lets her opinion be known online, especially in matters concerning gender and feminism, is at risk of being a target of misogyny and sexual harassment. I’ve been blogging about feminism for over a year now, but I didn’t personally experience this unfortunate reality until very recently, when press on my work around LEGO Friends was bombarded by misogynist sexual harassment specifically targeting myself and several of my fellow SPARKteam activists. I had always heard that women speaking online should prepare to be harassed, but you can never be fully prepared for the experience.

So the first thing I have to say, though it’s been said before, must be said again. Anyone who doesn’t think sexism is still a problem need only look at the cyber-harassment phenomenon to see how far we still have to go. The internet is the primary medium for information and communication today, and yet it is a place where women are still systematically silenced. Anonymity fueled cyber-bullying can target many people, not just women. But we need to stop brushing the phenomenon off as “trolls will be trolls” and “don’t read the comments.” Harassment and silencing are serious issues, and they should be taken seriously.

The second thing I have to say is about sexism in gaming culture. It is telling that while Anita previously experienced “normal” levels of harassment leveled against women online, the instant she merely announced that she was doing a series examining gaming, she was subject to a vicious, organized and targeted campaign of online harassment. I really don’t believe that the majority of gamers are hateful misogynists. I believe that it is only a small minority, not just because I know many gamers, male and female, who are rational and kind hearted human beings, but also because I like to believe the majority of just about every population doesn’t think harassing a complete stranger is a productive use of their time. But that this attack did occur specifically in response to a gaming focused Kickstarter, I think I need to share this video. It’s from way back in March, but it says smart things, gets all the applause from me, and won’t embed properly. So please click through the link.