Anita Sarkeesian’s TED talk and the predictable response

This talk by Anita Sarkeesian at the TEDxWomen 2012 event was posted with its ratings and comments disabled. While ordinarily I would consider that the mark of an attempt to stifle debate, this was done because she is the target of an ongoing hate campaign because she’s a woman talking about sexism in a traditionally male-dominated territory: video games.

The comments and downvotes would wreck this talk’s chances of being seen, normally. In this case, knowing that she’d be censored by the same haters she’s talking about, I’m okay with disabling the ratings and comments. We can post it to our own sites and let her speak, then offer constructive criticism in spaces where we can moderate away the haters. This deprives them of a space to vent, and allows her message to enter the marketplace of ideas to live or die by their own merits.

But the haters found an easy way around this: upload the identical video elsewhere, so they could downrate it to shit and talk about rape all they want. It may not remove the original video from the public discourse, but it sure makes them feel better about their tiny and insignificant lives.

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Gameathon: You did good, and you should feel good!

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m ecstatic with how the gameathon went. Despite the technical glitches and scheduling issues and having to cut it off about 2.5 hrs before our predicted end time (oof), it was still ridiculously successful. We got more guests than we were expecting and often had to double, triple and quadruple up. We got more donations than we were expecting, raising a total of $523.89 each for Women In Secularism and Camp Quest, and covered all expenses necessary to start this up so I’m not even in the red! Yes, seriously, I was a bit pessimistic at first, thinking nobody would show or donate and that we weren’t going to make enough to cover those expenses. I was fully prepared to have to eat the cost just to have something to give to CQ/WIS. But as it stood, we had enough to cover all the major expenses and plenty to give to both charities.

And the fun we had! If you missed the broadcast, it’s all still available here, and I plan on pulling chunks of it out to put on Youtube for easier access. I curb-stomped JT repeatedly at Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo, though in fairness his internet was basically horrendous throughout the whole event (despite them sending someone out to fix it). He got his comeuppance when he played Contra on the NES and got to Stage 4 on the default three lives — he’s a beast. And despite my immense experience with Megaman, he beat me handily a few times when we did some stage time trials . I played some Bible games to show the audience the kind of crap available for the NES from Wisdom Tree, Jodi played some Toejam and Earl, we did some three-player Ninja Turtles (albeit briefly), we each played a few games that we’d never seen before (including Ninja Baseball Batman — which is awesome!).

Then there were guests. Ed Brayton made a surprise appearance, Glendon Mellow hung out for a while, Russell Glasser was a good sport and visited twice — once on Saturday afternoon and once on Sunday morning shortly before we threw in the towel. Stephanie Zvan made a yet-unmet challenge: find proof of the existence of an Atari II (or thereabouts) Taipan! clone called Shanghai (and no, not the Mahjongg Solitaire game). James Croft visited to give us a rousing speech… or two. Though both of which may have been lifted from other sources, come to think of it. I met a bunch of people for the first time, like Lauren Lane and Lux Pickel. And we introduced Brianne to the concept of emulation and she was absolutely ecstatic to play as Yoshi in Mario Kart and drive into a wall repeatedly.

This is going to happen again next year, without question. But it may have to happen with JT and I in the same place, if the internet is going to be any near as recalcitrant next time around.

And none of this would have been possible without you. Thank you all, so very much.

Ashley Miller loses her father

If you haven’t already seen this post by Ashley Miller, you probably should. Especially if you’re under some misapprehension that we’re in a post-racial society just because Obama got 51% of the vote. She didn’t lose her father to disease, or to an accident. She lost her father because her father decided his Southern upbringing was more important than his filial relationship.

I’m sorry to be doing this over the phone, your father has forbidden me from seeing you in person. I’m sorry, he just cannot support your lifestyle anymore, he will not be speaking to you again, he asked me to tell you.

That was my stepmother, the day after Thanksgiving, the day after she discovered I was dating someone. Someone who was not white. Someone who was black. Someone who was sitting in the next room and knew what the phone call was going to be about before it even started.

Your father wants you to know that he still loves you. But you’ve gone too far.

This broke my damn heart.

And what’s more is, I’ve seen something very similar myself when my father all but disowned my sister for being gay. And in a way, it would have been better if he had disowned her, rather than simply harboring a “father knows best” grudge that he brings up every time we communicate with one another. My sister and I are both practically estranged from my father except for the very rare and awkward call. Whenever these calls happen, I cringe inwardly knowing that if conversations venture anywhere near my sister’s “life choices” and his disapproval, I’ll let fly with a rant about how she no more chose her sexuality than I chose my eye color.

And yes, I know that elides a lot of the argument of how much sexuality is a choice. But frankly, when someone talks about how they disapprove of someone else’s lifestyle choices, it damn well ought to be a lifestyle choice you have total control over. Who you love is not a choice you can truly make, any more than you can choose to be convinced about something. What you choose to accept as true without ever examining critically, on the other hand — especially if it’s a revulsion to a whole class of people so well internalized that all you can do to defend said revulsion is to preface your otherwise blatantly hateful statements with “I’ve got no problems with the coloreds or the the queers BUT” — that’s a choice.

You can choose to examine that loathing of miscegenation or of homosexuality. Or you can choose to lose a person who represents a valuable part of your life over your dogged determination to stick with your “traditions” or “values” because of how you were raised. It’s your call to make — to decide that your daughter’s happiness is expendable and must be subsumed into her strict obedience to the social mores of your older generation.

You may only get to make that call once, though. And you will both be the poorer for it.

Gamers For Godlessness 24 Hour Gameathonapalooza!

Starring JT Eberhard and Jason Thibeault, with special guests throughout the show. Join us in raising money for Camp Quest and Women In Secularism. Pledge money, dare us to do video-gamey stunts, and watch us beat the snot out of each other in various classic games! The gaming starts at 12 Noon EST. GET OVER HERE.

We made it 21 hrs and 35 mins before we had to pack it in, and generous viewers donated a total of $1335 which means, after the $300 we’ve allotted to defray our one-time startup costs to get this show on the road, and after Paypal has taken their cut, we’re left with $980.41 to split between Camp Quest and Women In Secularism. But that’s an ugly number, so the widget will remain up for the time being in case any kind souls would like to bump us up to something more reasonable. And if you need incentive, the entire archive of the night is available at my twitch.tv page. That’s plenty of entertainment to merit your further donations.

Thank you all for participating! I’m going to go crash hard now.

Gamers For Godlessness title card

Title card by Glendon Mellow, The Flying Trilobite

Watch live video from lousycanuck on www.twitch.tv