Aww, we missed his birthday »« That’s not very friendly

Comments

  1. besomyka says

    It’s good, but I have to add regarding Mass Effect: the people that bother calling the female Shepard FemShep also call the male protagonist BroShep, not Shepard.

    Probably a side effect of the company I keep.

    BroShep isn’t very interesting as a character, though.

  2. says

    Skyrim has a similar problem to Mass Effect. There’s nothing in the game that requires a male or female protagonist, but the marketing for the game has firmly entrenched the protagonist as a male nord.

  3. zoniedude says

    Being lectured about “superficial gender signifiers” by someone with lipstick, plucked eyebrows, and oversized earrings seems to diminish the message.

  4. says

    Saw someone at Skepticon with an N7 hoodie this weekend, and didn’t catch his name. I joked the next time I saw him that because I couldn’t remember his name, I’d call him Garrus, because he couldn’t obviously be Commander Shepard because he presented as male.

    He kinda stopped for a second then started laughing. Apparently defaulting Shepard to female is jarring to some people.

  5. chigau (違う) says

    zoniedude #4

    Being lectured about “superficial gender signifiers” by someone with lipstick, plucked eyebrows, and oversized earrings seems to diminish the message.

    How so?

  6. gillyc says

    zoniedude @4, I suppose being lectured about superficial gender signifiers by someone with a mustache and tie would be absolutely fine though?

  7. jedibear says

    The discussion of “FemShep” as a term is essentially in error. “Shepard” refers to male and female versions equally, while if a member of the community wants to call out the male or female version specifically (usually to discuss the voice acting, character design, romance options, or how gender re-contextualizes the character,) the terms FemShep, BroShep, and ShepLoo (after the default male shepard’s model) are used as a shorthand.

    She’s absolutely right about the marketing. It took me forever to get into Mass Effect even after it came to PC because the promotional materials had lead me to believe that there was no customization whatsoever. I just thought you played this too-pretty-but-otherwise-boring Space Marine named John Shepard and saved the Galaxy somehow or other. Yawn.

  8. orabilis says

    It kind of feels like I’m having the tertiary sexual characteristics page of TvTropes read at me.

  9. jedibear says

    @Jason Thibeault #5,

    I get similarly confused when people assume Shepard is male. Many FemShep fans do.

  10. drken says

    I haven’t played Angry Birds in a while, so I didn’t realize they felt a need to further feminize a character that lays eggs. I’m glad Tetris is just blocks.

  11. edmundog says

    I don’t play Mass Effect, but I have never heard the term “BroShep”. I have, however heard “FemShep”. So only one of those has spread beyond the community.

  12. zenlike says

    orabilis #6

    It kind of feels like I’m having the tertiary sexual characteristics page of TvTropes read at me.

    Bows, long eyelashes, red lipstick and the colour pink are tertiary sexual characteristics now?

  13. Tapetum, Raddled Harridan says

    zoniedude #4 – you did catch her saying that a variety of gender presentation is desirable? Meaning that female characters are perfectly allowed to have lipstick, bows, high heels, or whatever, as are real human females. The problem comes in when every female character (or a vast majority) is depicted that way, particularly when so many games only come with one female character at all.

    Likewise lipstick, high heels, big earrings, plucked eyebrows, and so on, are mostly a problem because so many women are expected to present as feminine in this way, and are penalized for not doing so. And conversely, men will be penalized for using the exact same presentation.

  14. Galactic Fork says

    That was really good. The best part to me was the part about the Koopalings, and later expanded on with Scribblenauts. The boys are defined by their personality traits, the girl is defined by being a girl. The Angry Birds bit made me throw up in my mouth a little. Apparently laying eggs is just too masculine on its own.

    And I’ve never seen or heard the name Broshep for the male Shepard. I’ve always seen it as Manshep. And the Femshep and Manshep bit usually only comes up during discussions about the specific gender version (like the horrible voice acting of Manshep).
    Of course there are those who decide the default is the “real” Shepard. And that is also significant because you can also pick your skin color, and the white skin color is the default. They could have solved that easily by just having the game randomly pick one of several defaults when it started. Well, that and use marketing that didn’t use a specific Shepard design. Maybe milk the fact you can make the protagonist look however you want.

  15. doublereed says

    This may seem kind of silly to ask, but I didn’t understand what she meant with the ‘binary gender roles.’ How does “put a bow on her” enforce binary gender roles? I was only more confused when she brought up Birdo.

  16. says

    @18 Her design is Pac Man, but with a bow. Had they come out with Gender-Fluid Pac-Person and given them a bow and a tie, perhaps then it would be seen as something beyond lazy shorthand for “guys are like this, girls are like this, and there’s nothing else.” That’s my take, anyway.

  17. brianpansky says

    @18
    doublereed

    for birdo, see:

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/nataliereed/2012/03/15/birdo-poison-and-how-to-construct-transpride-from-transphobia/

    according to Super Mario 2′s instruction manual, Birdo was “a boy but thinks he’s a girl”.[…]In both of these instances, these characters who we’ve proudly embraced as icons were born not out of any deliberate effort to offer us that. They were created instead from the hostile, prejudicial and transphobic attitudes of the 80s- wherein it was morally unacceptable to inflict violence on cis women in a video game but totally cool to inflict violence on trans women, and where we made for funny little insta-punchlines in instruction booklets. “HA-HA thinks he’s a girl! Hilarious!”

    and about this:

    How does “put a bow on her” enforce binary gender roles?

    maybe think of it this way. that symbol can only communicate to the audience that the character is a girl if men never have a bow. using the symbol enforces “men are never like this, so you can recognize non-men as soon as you see them”.

  18. Sophia, Michelin-starred General of the First Mediterranean Iron Chef Batallion says

    @18 doublereed

    Well, the gender binary construct is pretty self-explanatory:
    Women = pink, bows, pretty things, childlike accessories, cutesy, emotional rollercoasters, makeup, superficiality, shopping, tantrums, image-obsessed, almost totally helpless in bad situations, producing/taking care of kids, passive, subservient, deviation from the male norm, etc.

    Men = Active, in charge, not differentiated by accessories because default, aggressive, leaders, rescuers, protectors, proactive in bad situations, uninterested in “feminine” things like family, shopping or clothing/presentation, make up the bulk of anyone “important”, can do any job or be any “type” – including femininised like birdo or the horrible trans/homophobic jokes (because being feminine is humiliating for men), stoic and unemotional, etc.

    So basically… If you have two characters with no defining characteristics (say two random shapes), you’ll generally be able to assume they’re both male characters, because the trope is so ingrained that we don’t tend to recognise characters as female without some visual integration of the above binary stereotyping. The transphobic and homophobic portrayals of effeminate men or (more rarely) masculine women serve to reinforce that the categories are binary, separate and any attempt to land anywhere in between is laughable and wrong.

  19. Dauphni says

    I think the picture she shows at the 16 minute mark is especially interesting within this discussion. It shows Ms. Pacman with her bow, but it also shows Mr. Pacman with his bow. Specifically, he’s wearing a bow-tie. It is pretty much the exact same accessory, but now it’s unmistakeably masculine-coded, merely by virtue of its colour and location. “Put a bow on it” indeed.

  20. says

    Re: Sophia, […]

    So basically… If you have two characters with no defining characteristics (say two random shapes), you’ll generally be able to assume they’re both male characters, because the trope is so ingrained that we don’t tend to recognise characters as female without some visual integration of the above binary stereotyping. The transphobic and homophobic portrayals of effeminate men or (more rarely) masculine women serve to reinforce that the categories are binary, separate and any attempt to land anywhere in between is laughable and wrong.

    This is beautifully illustrated with Angry Birds. All the original characters are basic shapes with primary colors. And yet they have to “feminize” the one that was totes female from the beginning, yo.

  21. Sophia, Michelin-starred General of the First Mediterranean Iron Chef Batallion says

    @24 Nathaniel Frein

    All good :)
    Yeah – definitely. Just goes to show how pervasive the trope is – when a character is read as male by default but isn’t, they go and pinkify it to make the distinction more ridiculous. Ugh.

  22. says

    One of the things I liked about Mass Effect was the female character was real. She didn’t read as an afterthought. Her voice acting was actually far superior to the male voice actor. She doesn’t go all feminine and giggly with her love interest, nor is she obligated to be ‘rescued’ by said love interest. The greatest part of playing FemShep was nobody treated her any differently due to her being female, with the possible exception of a single offhand remark in Mass Effect 3 by Eve.

  23. Alverant says

    Gives you a lot to think about. I wonder if there are any examples of the Smurfette Syndrome that is not also an example of Ms.Male Character and vice versa.

  24. brianpansky says

    @27
    Alverant

    I wonder if there are any examples of the Smurfette Syndrome that is not also an example of Ms.Male Character and vice versa.

    someone who is only a smurfette: Peach from Mario is definitely not just a female version of Mario. She is often, especially in earlier games, the only woman.

    someone who is only a Ms. Male Character: characters like batwoman or super girl are often not the only women in those stories, comics, games etc.

  25. says

    I liked the term “FemShep”, mostly because it does break the assumption that everyone’s Shepard is a dude.

    Then again, both my male Shepards were non-white and romanced Kaiden and Steve respectively…so according to Real Gamerz, I can’t just play Mass Effect right anyway.

    (Also, I had a good ol’ fashioned shit fit watching the Dragon Age:I trailers that talked up customization, but every hero you saw was a white dude. If it’s customizable, BioWare, let’s see some fucking customization already!)

  26. Alverant says

    #28 @brianpansky

    Thank you. How many do you think it takes to qualify for smurfette syndrome? Say there are three main characters and one of them is female, does that count? How about four? Where’s the cut off point? Also what about situations where the majority of the characters are male but more than one is female (ie GI Joe and most fighting games)?

  27. Sophia, Michelin-starred General of the First Mediterranean Iron Chef Batallion says

    Ah, the smurfette principle.
    I think that smurfette principle isn’t determined by numbers so much as portrayal. Take the smurfs for instance, as the origination point of the trope. Each smurf has an identifying trait: brainy smurf, lazy smurf, papa smurf and all the rest. They’re all male, but they have some identifying personality trait (however one-dimensional those might be). Then you get smurfette. She is “female smurf”, as if being female is like being lazy, brainy or wise. All the other smurfs are default altered by trait, smurfette is default altered by being female. The ‘token chick’ principle tends to work the same way, the lady character often has few or no qualities that aren’t on the “stereotupically feminine” chart, whilst the male characters often present a range of personalities, occupations, style and depth of character.

    So – I’d say that smurfette principle works for not only numbers, but portrayal. If you have two characters, one of whom is female – but she wears pink, is flighty and selfish, shallow and just basically a stereotypically feminine version of the male lead template – smurfette principle could technically be said to apply.
    Even in otherwise unobjectionable content you see it everywhere – There’s a little framing program on my local toddler TV channel called Giggle and Hoot. It features the presenter (Jimmy Giggle) and Hoot, an owl puppet. There are other characters, namely a female owl puppet called Hootabelle and a few slightly anthropomorphised soft toys that don’t talk or move or anything except in the animated songs.
    Hoot is the main character, Hootabelle is lady hoot – even by name. He goes on the “night watch”, flying around to keep kids safe at night, Hootabelle “twinklifies” the stars. It’s all pretty innocuous, but it’s still perpetuating the tropes that male characters are the default and females are defined by their relation to a male character, and also that male characters are protectors and female characters do passive “pretty” things.

  28. ck says

    It’s surprising how many games that emphasize customization fall into male-as-default. Saint’s Row 4 is another, where all the trailers focus on the default male (even the default appearance of the default male), despite the fact the game’s biggest strength is the character customization. Frankly, I don’t know how anyone can play that game with anything but the french woman’s voice, since your character is supposed to be the president of the U.S. and the recent nonsense about “cheese-eating surrender monkeys” combined with the nonsense about Obama’s citizenship makes it the absolute perfect voice.

  29. Sophia, Michelin-starred General of the First Mediterranean Iron Chef Batallion says

    @32 suttkus

    Hm, I see your point, but I can’t quite extricate them from each other in my brain since I can’t really think of any examples where they’re not intrinsically linked. Either way, whether they’re the same trope or not they have the same damaging effect.
    It’d be interesting to see if there really are examples where the one female character actually does have non-stereotypical personality traits and depth of character, or isn’t just a female version of the male lead (like a ms. male).
    Yeah – they are distinct tropes now I think about it more, it’s just the reasons behind all of them are so similar it’s hard to think about them as separate!

  30. suttkus says

    @34 Sophia of the extensive epithet

    Well, it’s possible to have Men-Are-Generic-Women-Are-Special without invoking Smurfette Principle, just have multiple females that embody different aspects of femininity stereotypes. Think Archie’s main cast: All the important characters are men except for Betty and Veronica, who embody different feminine ideals, both of whom are present solely because of their relationship to Archie. (At least in the old days. People tell me they’ve developed quite a bit lately.)

    MAGWAS is the broader trope. It’s the direct reason why Smurfette Principal exists. I’m not even sure what Smurfette Principle without MAGWAS would look like. Well, maybe something like Chess: One identifiable female character, but she’s the most powerful figure on the board and not at all defined by “feminine” traits.

  31. llamaherder says

    I still get genuinely confused any time someone refers to Shepard or Hawke as men, to a point where any narrative involving a male Shepard or Hawke sounds like bad fanfiction.

  32. llamaherder says

    I used to have the same reaction with Revan until repeated Foundry runs in SWTOR sealed her fate. The Exile, mercifully, hasn’t been ruined in the same way.

  33. Sophia, Michelin-starred General of the First Mediterranean Iron Chef Batallion says

    @35 suttkus

    Ah, that makes more sense. Smurfette principle as a subset of MAGWAS (although I still think MANWAD is a more apt acronym, being men are normal, women are different/difficult!) is why my brain has trouble with separating them out.
    I still can’t think of any MAGWAS-less smurfette. It probably exists, but I expect any woman who isn’t just a carbon copy of one of the guys with boobs and no personality would probably be posterlady for one of the other horrible tropes – like the evil seductress, straw feminist, evil jaded older woman (“past her usefulness” should totally be a trope) or some kind of mystical woo-fairy.

    Really wishing I had the time and resources to do some proper research now.

  34. suttkus says

    @37:

    For the purposes of integrating the Star Wars games with customizable characters into the larger canon, all customizable characters are given an official gender. That way media set in a subsequent time can refer to them. Revan is canonically male, the Exile is canonically female.

  35. MJP says

    I’ve watched her videos, and I don’t understand what all the fuss is about. She doesn’t say anything that’s controversial – or rather, anything that should be controversial. Of course, the man-klan always needs something to hate.

  36. Amphiox says

    Being lectured about “superficial gender signifiers” by someone with lipstick, plucked eyebrows, and oversized earrings seems to diminish the message.

    This statement would be relevant if Anita Sarkeesian was a fictional character deliberately created as a pastiche for the pre-existing male character Anthony Sarkosian, known for you-tube videos about masculinity tropes in videogames.

    As she is not, neither is this.

  37. ChasCPeterson says

    Think Archie’s main cast: All the important characters are men except for Betty and Veronica

    Hello. Miss Grundy?

    Of course, these three exemplify a sub-trope of their own.
    Mary Ann, Ginger, and Lovey Howell.
    Hoshi, T’Pol, and, uh, ok I got nothin

  38. says

    I was discussing this with Girlfriend today and she mentioned the limit of the trope and it made me think. She said something along the lines of “game developers don’t need to make female characters because the demographic isn’t there.”

    So really the entire game industry is fighting a constant self-fulfilling prophecy: Girls don’t buy games because they don’t have female characters to look up to, so the game industry doesn’t make female characters girls can look up to.

  39. dysomniak, darwinian socialist says

    Kevin, your girlfriend is spouting stereotypes as if they are facts. In the real world, 47% of gamers are female. Unfortunately publishers and developers tend to think like your girlfriend.

  40. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    @dysomniak, #44:

    It’s worse than that. 47% of gamers are presumed women and female by survey interviewers* but,


    Results from an independent samples t-test showed that male players spent significantly more dollars per year on video games (M = $333.92, SD = $606.92) than female players (M = $87.19, SD = $139.61).

    So Kevin’s Girlfriend is even more massively wrong – not only is the demographic there, but they clearly have money that they could be spending on games, but aren’t. There is a massive economic incentive to write games that women gamers will buy at equal rates to men. With the mean of assumed-males approximately 4x the mean of assumed females, that means that the money left on the table by writing an equally salable game is 3/5ths (4 parts for assumed-males, 1 part from assumed-females, with (4 -1 =) 3 parts that could have come from assumed-females for games that appealed equally to assumed-females) of the gross revenue of any game of industry-standard salability.

    If women in the gaming demographic have 75% of the income of men, that’s still (4 – 1 – 1more quarter for the income not earned) = 2 parts, compared to the 5 parts already spent, 2/5ths the gross revenue of any game of industry-standard salability.

    When costs like marketing are largely fixed, and story-writing and character-building are a fraction of the development costs, what game company would be in a worse position for doubling story-writing and character-building costs in exchange for a 40%-60% increase in gross receipts?

  41. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    Ooops, the footnote related to survey interviewers?

    Had I remembered to include it originally, it would have said this:

    Survey interviewers, when recording demographics, ask things like income, race, and ethnicity. But they are trained *never* to ask gender, to always assume it. Then the companies for which the interviewers work compound the problem by assuming sex from assumed gender. It’s sexist and fallacious as F.

  42. says

    Kevin, speaking as a game developer who has been involved with the character design process, things are a little more complicated than that. Most of the studios I’ve worked in, in the UK and Sweden, have been very liberal, and you’d have little problem finding devs who want to put women as characters into their games.

    If you propose a title with a woman lead or an equal gender balance there are two problems you will run into immediately.

    The first is that a lot of devs are not skilled enough to know how to make good characters who are women. This is in large part because of the gender disparity within development. There are a lot of writers and designers who don’t have the tools to do the job well. When they try the result is often a ‘strong woman character’ who is little more than a guy with tits. There’s a lot of this stuff going around. We need more skilled devs to crack this problem.

    The other big hurdle is Marketing. This is an industry where sometimes it feels as if you can’t take a shit without Marketing’s signoff. Certainly, when it comes to character design they have a very big megaphone to shout down dissent. I have been told repeatedly by Marketing that women characters don’t sell (Tomb Raider and suchlike apparently being unfathomable exceptions to the rule).

    In one recent big name AAA shooter title I worked on we tried to add an older woman, a Helen Mirren type to the mix of a co-op game mode. We devs were keen on the character, who would have made for an even gender balance amongst the four characters, but Marketing did their damnedest to sabotage the focus tests so that they could sink the character. They pulled metrics out from all sorts of places to defeat our arguments. They really don’t want more than a token woman, any more than they tolerate a token black dude in the character mix.

    Sarkeesian brings up an interesting point that I hadn’t considered: that in the case of Mass Effect (a game where I feel the devs’ hearts were in the right place) Marketing sabotaged the product by portraying the male character as default. The FemShep usage numbers are still quoted back at us devs as proof that women leads don’t sell games. If we can show that their data is distorted by their own Marketing effort, that may give us a weapon with which to push back.

  43. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    @wcorvi, #45:

    Did you see the icon of zoniedude at #4?

    michaelbusch in #16 was lamenting dismissing the message for the femininity of the messenger. If masculine presentation (e.g. not wearing makeup, having unkempt facial hair) is more valued and thus necessary to gain equal respect, then that rather naturally leads to game-makers to want to present characters as “masculine” so as not to be dismissed.

    But it’s worse than that. As gillyc hints at in #7, douchegabber zoniedude is displaying superficial gender signifiers his own self. In fact, **we all do**. And yet, the existence of superficial signifiers of masculine gender – douchegabber’s own gender signifiers in name and photo – apparently are irrelevant to his messages, despite the fact that he goes out of his way to use both a dude-name and a human portrait as an icon, bringing gender unnecessarily into the comment-medium.

    Gender is going to be in any narrated video, even when the narrator is not pictured, b/c of gendered assumptions of voice, and further gendered when the video has a feminist perspective. Carrying an Hitachi, wearing a beehive, and sporting a black cocktail dress are hardly necessary to invoke gendered judgements about this video’s message or messenger. But Holy F, putting “dude” in his entirely-optional commenter’s screen name and then chiding a woman for sporting gender signifiers in an actual video is the height of bullshit, anything-masculine-is-normal-and-neutral-therefore-not-gendered, blinkered, Fian privilege.

    As a response to a video calling out bullshit, anything-masculine-is-normal-and-neutral-therefore-not-gendered, blinkered, Fian privilege, I thought michaelbusch’s comment at #16 was restrained, succinct, and, yes, pointed.

    I’m sorry you need this entire mini-essay to get it, but that ain’t michaelbusch’s failing.

  44. saganite says

    @21
    “…– including femininised like birdo or the horrible trans/homophobic jokes (because being feminine is humiliating for men),…”

    True, it is often considered such and we should get away from that. But isn’t it also true that being “masculinized” is considered humiliating for and by many women?
    Being flat, butch, a tomboy, un-lady-like, having facial or body hair, having an un-feminine body type (especially waist and chest) and so on.

    So, not saying the binary gender structure isn’t a thing (and a problem) at all, just saying it obviously goes both ways; it’s not specific to males being feminised, it’s about enforcing binary gender roles either way.

  45. says

    @50, Saganite

    Unfortunately, I can only think of one such example (the female mercenary from Deus Ex: Human revolution) of a woman who came off as insultingly masculinized. Do you have any other examples?

  46. says

    Just to come back to a point in my earlier post, I want to reiterate how much influence Marketing has over game development. They apportion the marketing spend as they see fit. They can make or break a product through control of the purse strings. They also sell to the networks of distributors and reps who push product into stores. There’s a enormous internal sales effort devoted to keeping, say, the rep for Walmart sweet so that you can guarantee orders, shelf space and store positioning for your game. You have to sell to these guys (and they are mostly guys) and make them excited to sell your product.

    So on front-and-centre matters such as characters, you are catering for the prejudices of Marketing and Sales. If you are going to turn the supertanker around, I’d suggest that should be your fulcrum–convincing them that non-token women will shift units. I can assure you that finding devs who want to place women front and centre is a lot easier than convincing Marketing to do the same.

  47. says

    a tomboy

    This was always used in a complimentary way when directed at me as a child. I think there is less* stigma associated with women acting “masculine”; after all, masculine is the desirable stereotype, it’s understandable that women would want to be like men. Not so much the other way around.

    *Less =/= zero

  48. hillaryrettig says

    zoniedude #4 –

    I think you have a point.

    I get that the narrator is making a point about tropes, but I do think it’s disingenuous to say it’s okay to critique choices in video games while claiming it’s inappropriate to critique those same types of choices irl.

    Feminism is about creating choices, but not all choices are feminist. (Of course, I get slammed a lot by younger feminists in particular when I say this – and in general it’s hard to critique someone’s fashion or other lifestyle choices without being called a fascist.*) It’s not a crime to make an antifeminist choice–I do it myself, sometimes–but I do think it’s a mistake to promote such choices as feminist.

    Tweezed eyebrows are designed to embiggen the eyes, which gives a juvenile appearance–and depilation, in general, is infantalizing. And a lot of makeup is designed to simulate sexual arousal.

    *Just Godwined myself – think of it as a preemptive strike!

  49. hillaryrettig says

    Having written the above, let me say that I think the video was brilliant, including the narration. And I got sucked into watching several more.

  50. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    @SallyStrange:

    Precisely. A woman wanting to be a man? That flatters masculinity as a desirable ideal, as superior to femininity. You might not think a woman can achieve masculinity, but you can understand her trying in the same way that you might not believe your child’s going to be the next Marian Anderson but still go to her choir recital. Sure it can be condescending, but it’s not the same as being beaten.

    On the other hand, for a man, with an hereditary entitlement to masculinity, to aspire to femininity as if it could ever be a an option preferable to masculinity, why that is a challenge to masculine supremacy itself! How dare that individual give anyone reason to think that femininity could ever, at any time, in any place, for any reason, be preferable to masculinity!

    (Female, cis-)Women can indulge in femininity because they cannot achieve masculinity, so it’s no more an insult to masculinity when they give up the dream and focus on femininity than it is an insult to music if one of these folk auditioning for American Idol decided to stop paying for singing lessons. But for men to walk away from masculinity? That requires the harshest gender punishments imaginable.

  51. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    @hillaryrettig:

    She wasn’t attacking the making of choices. She was attacking something more specific. Try reading my #49 and then reading zoniedude again.

  52. saganite says

    @51
    I have to admit I don’t really remember such female characters in videogames as such, but I would say it’s pretty common in other forms of fiction and more modern media, like movies (comedies), cartoons, comics and the like.
    The butch P.E. teacher, for example, or the hormone-swallowing female athlete with a hairy upper lip and whatnot.
    Typically, such characters are then also dominating, unfair and/or aggressive towards the students (or whomever they interact with that’s usually the viewpoint character).
    But as I said, I’ll have to see whether similar portrayals are as common in videogames in some other context or not.

  53. hillaryrettig says

    @Crip Dyke

    I read 49 and reread his, and my conclusion remains. For all his own obvious gendered signifiers, zoniedude did not make a video decrying the excessive use of gendered signifiers. He wasn’t even disputing the point of the video, just commenting on a weird aspect that I myself had picked up.

    I could be on the wrong side of this one, but have had this discussion before, usually about high heels. Can you explain to me why it’s NOT disingenuous to critique a choice that pops up too frequently in video games and not critique it when it pops up too frequently IRL? Sure, the intent might differ, but is the result? After all, it’s the video game creators who are being derivative and aping (and exaggerating) tropes that already exist in society. How can we critique the same tropes that we ourselves embrace?

  54. =8)-DX says

    @hillaryrettig #54

    “It’s not a crime to make an antifeminist choice–I do it myself, sometimes–but I do think it’s a mistake to promote such choices as feminist.”

    Am I missing something here? How can clothing choices be “feminist” or “non-feminist”? Sure, the pressures behind some clothing choices (wearing high-heels if you hate it) are anti-feminist, but the choices themselves are surely neutral as long as you are comfortable with it as a person. The only way I could see a clothing/accessories choice as “non-feminist” or “anti-feminist” is if these choices meant you weren’t treating yourself as a human being.

    I other words “contra-gender-binary” =/= “feminist”.

    I found zoniedude’s comment really disgusting with all the hate surrounding Anita’s decision to make the Tropes vs Women in Video Games series, it’s perfectly understandable that she sticks to a specific set of accessories and makeup that she presumably finds comfortable. And since it’s part of the presentation, I can’t help but feel her look is intentional, and intentionally avoiding the “feminists are all ugly, butch lesbians who don’t wear makeup” trope.

  55. =8)-DX says

    I could be on the wrong side of this one, but have had this discussion before, usually about high heels. Can you explain to me why it’s NOT disingenuous to critique a choice that pops up too frequently in video games and not critique it when it pops up too frequently IRL? Sure, the intent might differ, but is the result?

    Well, since Sarkeesan herself explicitly mentions that she sees no problem with the gender signifiers in themselves, you’re point really falls apart. The video was never criticising wearing high-heels or makeup. It was criticising the use of these markers to signify “female” over the background “default=male”, as well as the predominance of a single “female=girly” stereotype among diverse male possibilities.

    You may have a problem with typically female gender signifiers yourself, but I think you’re just reading that into the video.

  56. doublereed says

    Gasp! A feminist wearing make-up! *faints*

    Seriously, that’s just stupid to the point of silly. If anything, feminist means that men get to wear make-up too. Do whatever you want. It’s actually really sad to see feminists basically say that there’s only specific ways to be a feminist. That’s horrible. I thought the whole point (as Lauren Faust said) is that there are multiple ways of being a girl. So get comfortable, kick ass, and look good doing it.

    Anyway, I mostly remember all the tomboys from my school days being absurdly attractive. Oh god, I never thought of it before… maybe I have a “type”…

  57. doublereed says

    Actually Lauren Faust (from My Little Pony) says it like this:

    There are lots of different ways to be a girl. You can be sweet and shy, or bold and physical. You can be silly and friendly, or reserved and studious. You can be strong and hard working, or artistic and beautiful. This show is wonderfully free of “token girl” syndrome, so there is no pressure to shove all the ideals of what we want our daughters to be into one package. There is a diversity of personalities, ambitions, talents, strengths and even flaws in our characters–it’s not an army of cookie-cutter nice-girls or cookie-cutter beauty queens like you see in most shows for girls.

    To say that wearing makeup and prettying yourself up is ‘nonfeminist’ is a pretty silly thing to do. I have no idea why people have this desire to tell people what they’re “supposed” to be like.

    This quote also relates pretty strongly to the Sarkeesian video itself, and why token girlism is so bad for media.

  58. hillaryrettig says

    > =8)-DX

    If the forces impelling women are feminist or sexist, then the clothing will be, too. I don’t know how you separate the two.

    I don’t think I’m arguing for gender binaryism; rather against it. AS is the one who took a gender-neutral foundation and added some stereotypically gendered signifiers to it. you ascribe to her reasons that might make sense, and she has every right to make those choices. But all zoniedude and I are saying is that there seems to be an incongruity between those choices and her subject matter.

    I wasn’t aware that AS had gotten a lot of hate (although not surprised to learn it), so I feel bad critiquing her choices only for that reason. I wouldn’t want to add one iota to her challenges as an activist. But my critique wasn’t a big or serious one, and I don’t want to turn this into a big debate, especially given that the video itself is so superb and the series so important.

  59. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    For all his own obvious gendered signifiers, zoniedude did not make a video decrying the excessive use of gendered signifiers.

    No, he made a comment decrying the excessive use of gendered signifiers. Why is the lack of a motion picture relevant here?

    Moreover, is it “excessive” that is the problem or “inappropriate” that is the problem, with excess as evidence of how appropriate such signification might be? Which comes closer to Sarkeesian’s critique?

    And yet moreover, she’s criticizing having masculine be the default with having to “add” things to a “neutral” body to arrive at feminine…yet the neutral body is masculine, with nothing to add.

    Thus masculine signifiers are invisibilized – we assume masculine anyway, so masculine signifiers like “dude” or “mustache” or “tie” in no way undermine the ability of a person or character to comment objectively on gender, but lipstick apparently does render the actual content of the video suspect or useless or, well, just irrelevant.

    If neutral = masculine, then masculine = neutral. “zoniedude” takes advantage of this to call out Sarkeesian for portraying gender while analyzing gender. He’s using his masculinity (and the assumption of masculine neutrality) to undercut her message because a feminine messenger has delivered it.

    But while he can call out her lipstick, please, Hillary, tell me which person you’ve ever met that signified gender in no way at all. Show me one person whose pants can’t be analyzed as more masculine or more feminine, whose hairstyle can’t be characterized as manly or womanly, remembering that if that person has one or more gender-neutral or gender-free traits, that you still have to show that **every single trait** is gender-neutral or gender-free.

    And if you can’t do that, please give me a proof that the total number of gender-signifying traits that constitute “excessive” gender is less than three.

    Finally, when dealing with stories and fictional characters, it is possible to talk about “excess” gender in the sense that X is not required to tell the story.

    Real human beings are different. They communicate the gender they wish to communicate, and if it is unreasonable to go through a man’s bathroom & wardrobe and start throwing out items after you count 2 that signify gender, then it is unreasonable to give a woman – even a feminist woman talking about gender – any amount of hell for having more than 2 things that signify gender.

    zoniedude’s comment was repulsive. That stands regardless of whether or not you believe Anita is a hypocrite. But I think you can tell the difference between discussing animated gender signifiers chosen by storytellers when such signifiers are irrelevant to the story and the gender signifiers adopted by real people in real life, so I don’t believe that you do (reasonably) see Anita as a hypocrite.

  60. rq says

    But all zoniedude and I are saying is that there seems to be an incongruity between those choices and her subject matter.

    So she should look monstrously ugly in order to make her arguments and for them to make real sense and be applicable to real life? Gotcha.

  61. hillaryrettig says

    Crip – I don’t get at all where you’re coming from. She put the video out there, which he commented on. Not the reverse. And I’m not saying there’s some mythical gender neutral appearance we should all aspire to.

    I’m also not calling AS a hypocrite. A mistake–even assuming this was a mistake, which most people here don’t seem to think – is not the same as hypocrisy. We’re not robots and the world is complex, and I know I don’t live up to my own values 100%.

  62. Dunc says

    I wasn’t aware that AS had gotten a lot of hate

    Ah. In that case, you are missing a lot of important context.

  63. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    This is here for later, then, have a good day, hillaryrettig.

    I’m not saying there’s some mythical gender neutral appearance we should all aspire to.

    And neither am I saying you said that. But zoniedude is saying that sarkeesian’s video can’t be taken for its argument, it has to be dismissed for the presence of gendered signifiers affecting our gender perceptions of the arguer.

    And yet, at the same time that he is saying that the presence of gendered signifiers (or “excess” gendered signifiers, which total 3) is a reason to dismiss Sarkeesian and her argument, he’s proudly flagging some gender his own self.

    And yet, he doesn’t show any awareness that his argument applies to “dude”. He believes it applies to grooming choices of facial hair – but only when that facial hair is in the form of an eyebrow. Earings that dangle 3 inches below a lobe? Totally a reason to ignore her argument. Tie that dangles 18 inches below a neck? What gender are you talking about?

    ==============================
    Please, also think about the fact that she’s critiquing the addition of gendered signifiers to a template where neutral = masculine. Think about what zoniedude’s argument is: a tu quoque that makes feminine women’s critiques of gender illegitimate based on men’s critiques of feminine gender as “excessive”.

    Women “do” gender by painting and accessorizing themselves. Men just get up, put on a pair of pants, roll on some musk-scented antiperspirant, comb through their shortened hair, scrape their faces and splash on aftershave, slip a blocky wedding ring on the left hand and a chunky class ring on the right, button up a collared shirt, throw on a tie and go.

    How can it be that zonie’s comment isn’t part of the problem? Please explain that to me, hillaryrettig? Even if you think there’s a valid critique of the behavior, he doesn’t engage in a critique of why earrings are antifeminist. He engages in dismissal of Sarkeesian’s argument b/c earrings.

    Why are you defending that with such statements as:

    all zoniedude and I are saying is that there seems to be an incongruity between those choices and her subject matter.

    That is most definitely *not* all he is doing. He doesn’t say, “there exists an incongruity” full stop.

    He says

    Being lectured about “superficial gender signifiers” by someone with lipstick, plucked eyebrows, and oversized earrings seems to diminish the message.

    This is very definitely not what you are saying. You are praising the video’s message and adding “there exists an incongruity”. He’s saying, “there exists an incongruity, thus I don’t take the message seriously“.

    Respectfully, I think you are wrong on this.

  64. mattwatkins says

    Other context is that this is the 4th video AS has produced for this series over the last several months, and she wears precisely the same outfit/makeup/jewelry/hairstyle in each one for consistency. The current video, released yesterday, almost certainly wasn’t scripted prior to the filming of the first one. She’s always filmed from the shoulders up, facing the camera, with the same lighting and backdrop. I suspect the choices about Ms. Sarkeesian’s appearance on the video were made primarily to facilitate this type of presentation, allowing her to act as a talking head while distracting as little as possible from the content.

    Re: online harassment/rape threats/vandalism directed at AS herself. It’s worth watching her TED talk on the subject:

  65. hillaryrettig says

    Crip 72 –

    >You are praising the video’s message and adding “there exists an incongruity”. He’s saying, “there exists an incongruity, thus I don’t take the message seriously“.

    I think we’re getting to the core of it. The above may be what he meant or it may not be. But he doesn’t actually say that. “seems to diminish the message” is not the same as “negates the message.” Diminish can mean anything really, including incongruous.

    I don’t know if he has a history of posting sexist trash and that’s why you’re inferring the above. I don’t know who he is and was taking his comment at face value.

    TTYL

  66. laurentweppe says

    Tell me how it goes

    She said that bows are used to define female characters

    Bow are Manly!

    Therefore Sarkeesian is wrong about everything and also misandrist fascist who wants to send bro-gamers into reeducation camps where they’ll be exterminated just likes Jews so it’s totally ok to have rape fantasies involving her and act like a rabid dog toward anyone who does not express murderous rage at her videos

  67. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    Criticizing a woman’s appearance to diminish her anti-sexist message?
    No way that could have happened, people usually critique women’s jewelery and makeup choices only with the bestest intentions. Right?
    /oblivious

  68. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    Being lectured … seems to diminish the message.

    @hillaryrettig

    We can certainly agree that he refuses to give the message its full weight, right? So he is certainly saying **some portion** of the message is negated. The question, really, that you are portraying as important is how much of the message is he discounting? whereas I am interested in investigating,

    On what basis is he discounting a message about sexism?

    and I can’t find an answer other than, “I perceive visibly feminine gender expression.”

    Presumably he wants his own message taken seriously, yet he adds gratuitous markers of masculine gender expression.

    He implies – yes, it’s an implication not a statement, but unless he doesn’t want us to take his message seriously it’s an inevitable implication – that analysis of sexism can be done while sporting gratuitous markers of masculinity, but the same analysis is discounted when the speaker is sporting gratuitous markers of femininity.

    I really would like an argument that I am wrong on that point. If I am wrong, I owe zoniedude an apology and should make it as promptly as possible. If I’m right, you’re defending the sexist discounting of women’s analysis of sexism because of femininity…and our mutual readers should be aware that that behavior is not only fallacious, it’s sexist and unjust. Until we come to agreement on that point, readers might think it’s reasonable to believe a statement like zoniedude’s has no sexist content.

    Again, either I’m wrong and owe an apology to zoniedude, or our readers need to get the message that dismissing feminist analysis of sexism b/c women aren’t perfectly androgynous is bullshit.
    ===============

    But even if we wished to engage in an analysis of “how much has he discounted Sarkeesian’s argument”, the quote above with its “seems to diminish” may seem modest, but with the verb “lectured” do you really think he’s on Sarkeesian’s side 99%? You really think his statement is useful in ending sexism? Or is the choice of “lectured” supposed to move our understanding of “seems to diminish” more toward a form of understatement than toward a straightforward, literal reading of a highly qualified statement.

    Again, the massive backlash against Sarkeesian makes it much more reasonable to interpret zoniedude as offering less-than-constructive-criticism.

    From the Pfft!:

    On May 17, 2012, Sarkeesian began a Kickstarter campaign to fund a new series of short videos that would examine gender tropes in video games. This was featured as a campaign of note on the official Kickstarter blog,[13] and reached its funding goal of $6,000 within 24 hours.[14]
    The project triggered a campaign of sexist harassment that Amanda Marcotte in Slate magazine described as an “absolute avalanche of misogynist abuse,” in which “[e]very access point they could exploit was used to try to get to her”.[15][16] Helen Lewis of the The New York Times reported that Sarkeesian was e-mailed images of herself being raped by video game characters.[17] Attempts were made to hack her Twitter and Google accounts, doctored images of her were posted online, and negative comments were posted to her YouTube and Facebook pages.[2][18] Her Wikipedia article was repeatedly vandalized with images of sex acts.[19] Her website was subjected to denial-of-service attacks, and there were efforts to obtain and distribute her personal contact information.[20]
    Sarkeesian posted examples of the harassment on her blog, and supporters responded by donating over $150,000 to her project.[2][18] The harassment was subsequently documented in the media.[4] Particular attention was dedicated to one particular example, an internet game called Beat Up Anita Sarkeesian created by Ben Spurr, in which users could punch Sarkeesian’s image until the screen turned red.[3][18][21] Some harassers awarded each other “Internet points” for the abuse on forums;

    ============

    Nonetheless, I’m a little appalled at having to engage in a “how much sexism?” discussion, rather than simply saying that sexism isn’t okay, discounting a woman’s argument for the woman’s expression of a gender is sexism, and that, to the extent you have to disagree with me, you don’t know how much of her argument sexism led him to dismiss but that you’re prepared to believe that it is less than I apparently believe.

    Why is this “quantity of dismissal” argument relevant? Can you explain that? I, genuinely, would like to know.

    With respect,

    Crip Dyke

  69. zenlike says

    Sorry if this seems like piling on hillaryrettig, because I really like you as a commenter, but I just want to address the following you said in #75:

    The above may be what he meant or it may not be. But he doesn’t actually say that. “seems to diminish the message” is not the same as “negates the message.” Diminish can mean anything really, including incongruous.

    I don’t see this at all, because her message has absolutely nothing to do with what she is wearing. Her message is not: ‘women in videogames should never wear typically womanly clothing’. She just wants to examplify one trope in videogaming, namely that often a female character is the existing male character with a bow on top of her.

    The pacman example is the best in this regard:
    – circle = neutral = male
    – circle with bow and red lipstick = female

    It’s particularly the ‘neutral’ part which is sexist: the template that male is the ‘standard’ and female is the deviation. This is also examplified in the follow up in her video, namely the smurfette trope and the additional trope in which each male character has a personality, but the one female’s only defining characteristic is that she is ‘female’, nothing else.

    See the above? That has absolutely nothing to do with what she is wearing, the two are not related at all, so there is nothing there that can ‘diminish’ her message.

    All in all, I seriously doubt you actually watched the video and tried to understand it before you started commenting.

  70. says

    Re: zoniedude’s comment.

    The video builds on the creation of “female” characters by adding superficial gender signifiers to, essentially, a clone of the original male-by-assumed-default character.

    Zoniedude’s implied accusation of hypocrisy fails because the presenter is not an essentially genderaless character who is male-by-assumed-default, and is not using make-up etc to turn their assumed-default-maleness into femaleness.

  71. brianpansky says

    @54
    hillaryrettig

    I get that the narrator is making a point about tropes, but I do think it’s disingenuous to say it’s okay to critique choices in video games while claiming it’s inappropriate to critique those same types of choices irl.

    the video isn’t critiquing choices in video games. it does c\touch on the apparent **lack** of ‘choices’ women characters seem to have in many games, but that is still beside the point. did you watch the 9 minute mark? she says:

    Now just to be clear, there’s no inherent problem with the color pink, makeup, bows or high heels as design elements on their own. And of course people of all genders may choose to wear any of them from time to time in the real world and there is nothing necessarily wrong with that either.

    However, when designers choose to use the Ms. Male Character trope and its associated visual stereotypes to specifically distinguish female characters from the rest of the cast in a fictional context, it has a few negative consequences.

    it’s critiquing male as central and default in video games. that word she uses, “distinguish”, is important. the visual “choices” are besides the point, because they are not a problem on their own without the way they make women into a variation of the norm, rather than part of the norm. as a type of character rather than a character. the games rarely give a man type of character, because they can be highly diverse.. It makes it easy to assume all characters are male if there **is Not** any such “choices”.

    Sophia @ 21 said something similar:

    If you have two characters with no defining characteristics (say two random shapes), you’ll generally be able to assume they’re both male characters, because the trope is so ingrained that we don’t tend to recognise characters as female without some visual integration of the above binary stereotyping.

    one problem Anita is pointing out is that the above seems absurd, but is ‘confirmed’ to the audience by the “bow” trope and others.

    can you at least see that it contributes to the problem where male is default?

  72. unclefrogy says

    I have no arguments with what she presented I think what she has done is point out the really limiting games are for reasons that have little to do with the actual play of the game except of course when it is the point.
    two things struck me she had the heavy none natural stylized make up reminiscent of the classical Japanese or Tammy Faye Bakker and the none strictly female flannel shirt
    the other thing that really impressed me was both the clarity of the text and her flawless delivery
    she looked like she was completely off book. Wow!
    that was fun
    uncle frogy

  73. brianpansky says

    @74
    mattwatkins

    Other context is that this is the 4th video AS has produced for this series over the last several months, and she wears precisely the same outfit/makeup/jewelry/hairstyle in each one for consistency.

    i thought so too, but i checked and i see her shirt has way more blue in this recent one than when she was doing the three Damsel in Distress videos.

  74. brianpansky says

    the part about wendy koopa is also where Anita spells out part of the problem. the other koopas have personality and variation:

    they get to be presented in a variety of creative ways. Ludwig’s design communicates intelligence and arrogance, while Lemmy’s reveals his playfulness and Iggy’s makes him seem maniacal and a little unbalanced. Sadly, Wendy’s identity is limited by the fact that she is covered in superficial gendered signifiers. One look at her and you know she’s female, but not much else.

  75. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    @everyone, riffing off of brianpansky:

    Clearly she’s about to come out as trans, what with the excessive blue signifier. That certainly seems to diminish anything she might say in the future about cissexism. [/snark]

  76. Tethys says

    There is yet another petition against Anita Saarkeesian. I was saddened to see that it has nearly 1000 signatures until I started reading the names attached to some of those sigs.

    Dr. Mangryd Testeric
    Mr. Indignant Erection
    Dr. Fedora McManrage

    It seems like some other hordelings have visited. *snicker*

  77. daniellavine says

    @hillaryrettig:

    If the forces impelling women are feminist or sexist, then the clothing will be, too. I don’t know how you separate the two.

    Umm, clothing is obviously different from social pressure to conform to gender norms. They are two different things. That’s how I separate them.

    When a woman chooses to wear “girly” clothing and makeup that is a personal choice. When a woman is pressured into wearing “girly” clothing and makeup that is sexism.

    AS is the one who took a gender-neutral foundation and added some stereotypically gendered signifiers to it.

    But I don’t really see a problem with Sarkeesian wearing bows and lipstick if that’s what she wants to do. Again, it’s a personal choice at an individual level; it’s only when these signifiers become gender norms that are policed by other people in society that it gets to be a problem.

    Look, feminism isn’t a war against pink frilly dresses. I bet most feminists do not actually have a problem with pink frilly dresses. They do have a problem with the assumption that women are supposed to wear pink frilly dresses, but again: social pressure about clothing and individual choices about clothing are two different things and are thus easy to separate. We can accept personal choices gladly while still being critical of social pressure without any contradiction.

    But all zoniedude and I are saying is that there seems to be an incongruity between those choices and her subject matter.

    That’s only true if you assume that Sarkeesian is criticizing the girly clothing rather than the social pressure surrounding girly clothing. But it is the latter and not the former she is actually criticizing so there is in reality no incongruity.

    I hope this clarifies the matter somewhat.

  78. Rey Fox says

    Checked the URL on the petition from comment #87, decided not to go any further. “Acknowledge and present legitimate criticism of Anita Saarkeesian.” Get out your tweed jacket and meerschaum pipe, this is Serious Business.

  79. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    @doublereed:

    thread won.

    Please allow 7 – 10 business days for delivery of your new internet.

  80. A. Noyd says

    hillaryrettig (#65)

    But all zoniedude and I are saying is that there seems to be an incongruity between those choices and her subject matter.

    Superficial gender signifiers are not the problem. Superficial gender signifiers applied exclusively to female characters (because of the assumption that male is default) and applied in lieu of any other forms characterization are the problem.

    Also, there is a huge difference between a human being who can make choices for herself and a created character with zero actual autonomy who cannot help representing the wishes and values of her creators.

  81. says

    @hillaryrettig:

    Hate to pile on you some more, but put it this way, her example of the Scribblenauts game is precisely the issue.

    There are 42 characters you can play as. There’s an artist, an astronaut, an emo rocker, and so on. There is one girl. Her character is that she’s a girl. Nothing else.

    Why can’t, say, the emo rocker be a girl? Or the artist? Is there any reason that those characters cannot be girls? The characterization of 40 characters is “they like these hobbies” while the single girl’s characterization is “she’s a girl.”

    Oh, and she also gets turned to stone.

  82. Tethys says

    The petition is pretty ridiculous in its list of greivances, and in its petulant victim blaming. Ms Sarkeesian knew about 4chan, so apparently it is not really abusive harassment and she is not allowed to complain or document it.

    Here is most of it. There is a long list of supporting links, documenting their affronted man fee-fees.

    We the undersigned are presenting our names in solidarity against the lies, scams and fabrications of Anita Sarkeesian. We feel that this woman, in conjunction with her intimate partner and longtime collaborator Jonathan Micintosh, has effectively silenced any genuine criticism of her often erroneous and intentionally misleading point of view by portraying all of her critics as a “cyber mob” of misogynist internet harassers. Given that both gaming and mainstream media outlets have extolled Ms. Sarkeesian’s viewpoint uncritically, we feel that it is time to demand that our voices be heard.

    Our specific grievances against Anita Sarkeesian include- but are not limited to- the following:

    -Dismissing any legitimate criticism of factual inaccuracies in her statements, differences of opinion, or any other disagreeing response as part of a “misogynist hate campaign” and, by extension, creating the impression that the garden variety internet trolling she has received is emblematic of a systematic campaign to keep women out of the gaming community.

    -Intentionally provoking and creating the appearance of an internet cyber-mob through the controlled presentation of approved comments on her YouTube page to create the impression that there is an extraordinary or unusual backlash against her specifically. UPDATE 11/13/13: Recent video footage of a lecture just prior to the launch of the Kickstarter campaign shows that, contrary to her original story, Ms. Sarkeesian was actually aware of 4chan and knew what she was getting into with regards to their negative response.

    -That she has leveraged this intentionally generated public outrage for monetary gain, not social progress.

    -That she refuses to address or acknowledge matters regarding her professional history, specifically that her background is in ethically questionable internet salesmanship and that she worked extensively as an integral part of a company that is heavily inundated with accusations of fraud (see links re: Handwriting University.)

    -That despite claiming to have received numerous death threats and to abhor violence in media, she posted and endorsed a fan-fiction on her Tumblr page in which she tortures and murders Gear Box founder and CEO Randy Pitchford in a graphic manner.

    -Claiming to be a lifelong gamer during her Kickstarter campaign and being hailed as such in the press despite having stated in a 2010 lecture at Santa Monica college that she is not a gamer, does not play video games, and at the time knew little about them.

    -That she played many hours of games in the course of her research (see WIRED magazine article) when in reality she used “Let’s Play” footage that was posted to YouTube by other users.

    It is a profound dereliction and degradation of journalistic integrity to unilaterally portray any person’s argument on a controversial matter as being final, unquestionable, and above legitimate criticism. We demand here and now that this privilege no longer be awarded to Ms. Sarkeesian and that the gaming and mainstream media evaluate and present honest and insightful claims against her viewpoint as having the legitimacy they deserve by actively discussing, acknowledging, and holding Ms. Sarkeesian to task on them.

    Note the subtle slut shaming of “intimate partner” in the opening paragraph. Most of the rest is pure whining that Ms Sarkeesian is getting support, respect, and money with a side order of freezpeaches.

  83. Rey Fox says

    They knew what they were getting into when they bought the tickets. I say, let ‘em crash. < /countpointercount>

  84. says

    Hillary Rettig

    I could be on the wrong side of this one, but have had this discussion before, usually about high heels. Can you explain to me why it’s NOT disingenuous to critique a choice that pops up too frequently in video games and not critique it when it pops up too frequently IRL? Sure, the intent might differ, but is the result?

    There is a difference between criticising make-up, high heels, the colour pink* and sparkly unicorns and criticising a person for wearing them.
    Because the later is just shitting all over women again.
    Duh, i can’t win, I’ve already noticed that, but I could do without people whom I hope to be my allies bashing me for my choices in appearance.
    Take a moment here: You’re defending somebody whose main message is that he won’t take her argument for full because of the way AS looks.
    That’s the same old bullshit in a not particularly new wrapping.

    *I live in a household over-saturated with pink. I have two daughters who haven’t outgrown the pink phase yet. It’s horrible. Everything needs to be cleary girl-coded. Why does it have to be girl-coded? well, because all the other girls wear girl-coded stuff, too! So I’ve stopped buying pine green and navy blue shirts with dinos on them, because they cry when they see them and buy something with horses and quite often pink, thereby reinforcing the fucking gender-segregation which I hate.
    Oh, come on, call me a hypocrite.
    And then think about the alternative. The alternative is that I stuff their wardrobes with things they hate, break their will every morning and evening by forcing them to wear that stuff, robbing them of their gender identity by enforcing a boy-code and ostracize them in kindergarten and gradeschool.
    Yeah, that’s a really good idea. Let’s make small children pay the price without actually achieving anything.

  85. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    Worse, Giliell, how, pray tell, would you do this:

    The alternative is that I stuff their wardrobes with things they hate, break their will every morning and evening by forcing them to wear that stuff, robbing them of their gender identity by enforcing a boy-code and ostracize them in kindergarten and gradeschool.

    without communicating disapproval of femininity – that you like it when they don’t dress feminine and hate it when they do dress feminine would not be something you could hide if you made them change clothes every time something they wore had pink or lace or kittens or flowers.

    I’m not willing to say, “Feminine: bad!” to any young kids I know.

  86. says

    CD
    Absolutely. I would tell them that being a girl is bad, bad, bad. They should be like boys.
    I think it’s well known that I’m not a big fan of “femininity” and “masculinity” as such, but I can’t act as if I lived in my pick and mix world where a bow on the head and a bow around the neck are just two locations for wearing bows.
    I also can’t stop cooking because I’m setting the example that it’s the woman’s task to cook.
    Oh, and I shat all over myself for too long for liking “womanly crafts” and cooking and an arts education.
    I have no longer any interest in being “one of the boys”. I have a decided interest in being me.

  87. =8)-DX says

    So I’ve stopped buying pine green and navy blue shirts with dinos on them, because they cry when they see them and buy something with horses and quite often pink, thereby reinforcing the fucking gender-segregation which I hate.
    [..]
    And then think about the alternative. The alternative is that I stuff their wardrobes with things they hate, break their will every morning and evening by forcing them to wear that stuff, robbing them of their gender identity by enforcing a boy-code and ostracize them in kindergarten and gradeschool.
    Yeah, that’s a really good idea. Let’s make small children pay the price without actually achieving anything.

    YEAH. I do this thing. She loves pink. The first talk we had about pink (while blue is her favourite colour, then it was green, then pink then blue X{ ), I said “daddies can wear pink too”, she said “no they can’t”, I bought pink socks. Suddenly daddies can wear pink and it’s funny, then its normal. Lately we buy her clothes by the “this looks fuckin’ awesome” metric. Spiderman? Fuckin’ awesome! Hello Kitty? Fuckin’ awesome! My main gripe is that I don’t have the time/money/strength to always break the gender binary.

    Recently she once again said “Girls can only fall in love with boys”, I said “No, girls sometimes fall in love with girls”, she said “Well I want to live with my best friend C-“. Fighting this shit is difficult, it takes time, and all along the way I’ll fight to the death to aknowledge my daughter’s right to wear orange frilly dresses “like a princess”.

  88. =8)-DX says

    Just a question.. in my country there are different standards, but:

    Is it ok in your countries for girls to go to school in blue jeans and a red Angry-Birds T-shirt? Ages 6-8?

  89. The Mellow Monkey: Non-Hypothetical says

    Having actually made efforts to present gender neutral in the past, I’ve found over and over again–and this really shouldn’t be a shock to anyone–people cannot fathom gender neutral people. It doesn’t work. I’m a butch/frumpy woman or an effeminate man or some terrifying creature trying to trick people. There is no “this is simply a person.” People really, really do not like a purposeful lack of gender markers. They don’t know how to react and so frequently react with hostility. How dare I put them in this awkward position, right?

    And so it’s utterly absurd to criticize AS for using common feminine gender markers in her culture. It’s damn near impossible not to do so since everything tends to be gendered. Even supposedly unisex stuff is actually usually leaning masculine (which is an unfortunate example of art imitating life with the video games, eh?).

    AS’s gender is being presented loud and clear in that video. So? There is nothing wrong with being a woman. She isn’t complaining about femininity being displayed in video games. She’s making a far more interesting argument.

  90. =8)-DX says

    “Absolutely. I would tell them that being a girl is bad, bad, bad. They should be like boys.”

    For some of the “girly” toys I am in 100% agreement. Zooming around with police cars and trains and robots is much, much better than “I’m Sandy, I have a beauty parlor, I never have to worry about hard work!” If she ends up the beauty parlor type, I still don’t think her childhood will have been wasted with games that take into account the actual grit and effort needed to make a living. Many of these *girly*-toys come with base-assumptions of success based on super talents or appearance.

  91. =8)-DX says

    People really, really do not like a purposeful lack of gender markers. They don’t know how to react and so frequently react with hostility. How dare I put them in this awkward position, right?

    I’m so sorry. I’ve done this before and hope to be less… dismissive, more interested, more .. “Shit I’m talking to a human being who wants to talk to me” in the future.

    Even supposedly unisex stuff is actually usually leaning masculine

    I like the fabric in *feminine* garments so last year I bought a new yellow top. My male chest doesn’t fill the top and there is a strong lack of hips to fill the bottom, while the whole thing stretches on me.. There is a biological bias to certain clothes shapes/styles. I guess the “leaning masculine” is the clothes-makers concern that shoulder-width is a basic design constraint while “boobs will always fit”…

  92. =8)-DX says

    *Not that “beauty parlor” signifies laziness, my complaint was with how these toys are presented..

  93. says

    =8)-DX

    For some of the “girly” toys I am in 100% agreement. Zooming around with police cars and trains and robots is much, much better than “I’m Sandy, I have a beauty parlor, I never have to worry about hard work!”

    Yeah, but you know what? Same is true for much of the manly boy toys. “I am a mighty guy and shoot whoever disagrees with me” isn’t something I would ever consider appropriate for any child.
    I do set firm boundaries. In both directions, it’s only that they haven’t been tested in the boys direction. But I would prefer Filly Horses (Love! Joy! Flowers! Beauty!) to any kind of guns and such every day.

  94. =8)-DX says

    Filly horses? Well for me they are a paramoung example of child-focused comercialism: We first bought the winged ponies, then discovered ordinary ponies, then found out all the winged ponies were royalty, then discovered crowned ponies, then crowned-gem ponies, then they had gemmed-hoof/head unicorn-flying ponies… now it’s fairy-gemmed-crowned-I-give-up-ponies!

    I get that the other way is probably similarly horrible, but so far I feel much better with: Me: “Ow, that anime, they’re cutting off heads – that can’t be ok? daughter, do you mind?” “What? Oh that was perfectly fine, I want to be the forest spirit!”.. bloody-mindedness is universal in children, the ethics of it takes longer to explain..

  95. anteprepro says

    So, the specific grievances against Anita (via Tethys at 94) are:
    -Labeling trolling as a hate campaign.
    -Deliberately provoking a “cyber mob”
    -Creating the false impression that there is a “cyber mob”
    -Using public outrage for teh blog hits
    -Not giving proper weight to arguments about the legitimacy of Her Authoritah.
    -Endorsing a violent fan-fiction
    -Lying about being a gamer for teh Kickstarter dollars
    -She used footage from other people’s gameplay vids and therefore hadn’t played many hours of games.

    So…she is wrong to dismiss haters as haters because she has a perfectly normal level of haters and is exaggerating the amount of haters she actually has, and is also deliberately provoking people in order to get an exceptionally large number of haters in order to make Mad Internet Cash. Somehow all of those things. Also, her credentials are serious business.

    Really, the only complain they have that is even close to legitimate is the one about the fan-fiction. Which was just a one-off, half-hearted approval of a fan-fiction involving her that had her perpetrating some goofy, borderline cartoonish violence. It is telling that is really the only thing I think they might have a point about.

    Anita has a very sad, pathetic crowd “opposing” her.

  96. Jackie teh kitteh cuddler says

    Look, feminism isn’t a war against pink frilly dresses. I bet most feminists do not actually have a problem with pink frilly dresses. They do have a problem with the assumption that women are supposed to wear pink frilly dresses, but again: social pressure about clothing and individual choices about clothing are two different things and are thus easy to separate. We can accept personal choices gladly while still being critical of social pressure without any contradiction.

    This!^

    There is a difference between criticising make-up, high heels, the colour pink* and sparkly unicorns and criticising a person for wearing them.
    Because the later is just shitting all over women again.

    Also, this!^

    Hillary,
    Don’t tell women how to dress and style themselves and call it feminism. I raise kids, have pink and purple hair and enjoy nail polish, cute shoes and things that go sparkle. If you think that diminishes me as a person or that my choices are not feminist, I’d say that you’re confused. If you assume those things mean I can’t also be tough, smart, in charge etc, then maybe you have some issues to work out.

  97. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    Ugh, I hate to qualify your rant, Jackie, b/c I think it’s a great one.

    But I think that hillaryrettig’s error* is a more subtle one. Based on what I have known her to stay, she wouldn’t say that feminism includes telling women how to dress and style themselves.

    Instead, she makes no distinction between dress codes and dress – the first is bad, so the 2nd is bad. But she makes some concession to human imperfection. This allows her to say that wearing pink is bad, but the women doing the wearing are not.

    Maybe this is a distinction without a difference, but I see hillaryrettig as almost with us and so for the purposes of getting hillaryrettig over to our side, if that’s what we want, that fine line still needs to be bridged.

    hillaryrettig, if you’re still around, the consensus here is that ***coercion and force*** are violations of justice and human rights regardless of what is being coerced/forced. The fact that Jewish men (and more and more, Jewish women) are pushed to be doctors and lawyers is bad. It is not true that doctoring or lawyering are bad because some people are coerced into these roles. It is not even true that doctoring or lawyering are bad when performed by Jews.

    Agricultural work is not “bad” because we whites enslaved people to do agricultural work.
    Agricultural work is not “bad” when done by Black USAns because Black Africans were kidnapped, brought to the UK-NA colonies and (later) the USA and forced them and their descendants to do agricultural work.
    It wasn’t even bad during the first generation post-slavery. It wasn’t even bad in Ohio while slavery existed in Kentucky.

    Coercing/forcing X doesn’t make X bad.

    I am willing to listen to that argument, but I haven’t seen you make it.

    Moreover, **if X were to be accepted as bad**, how do you go about making the distinction between saying, “X is bad and you are doing a bad thing, but I make allowances for your human imperfection” and saying, “Don’t do X”? In particular, is “don’t do X” only ever interpreted as zero tolerance, making no allowances for human imperfection? How do you explain that interpretation of social rules of the form “don’t do X” when society clearly carves out exceptions to these rules (formal and informal) that release from responsibility the George Zimmermans from even macro-accountability on rules supposedly as firm as “Don’t do things that kill people”.

    If the two are functionally equivalent [that is to say, if you don’t have an argument that supports this distinction as having practical effects upon the way your message is heard by average people, not word-parsing feminists with awesome educations and strong English fluency], why should we be annoyed at those who want to “dictate” choices to women through “don’t do X” but be content with your message, “X is bad and you are doing a bad thing, but I make allowances for your human imperfection”?

    *error in my estimation, I’m not asserting omnipotent authority here

  98. says

    Gahhhhh, I wish I knew Anita personally. There’s a real dearth of people who truly get it in my area. Can we just build a city full of progressive people? Pretty please?

  99. says

    [salutes Crip Dyke and everyone else who has expanded on why zoniedude failed so badly].

    I was mainly going for “You are using gender signifiers to devalue someone’s calling out gender signifiers being used to devalue characters and people – way to miss the point”, but I was obviously missing a lot of important stuff.

  100. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    @everyone, but especially wcorvi:

    @ 45 you said something that I called out in my #49.

    Now I believe that I was horribly mistaken. You said:

    @michaelbusch @16 – there was a point?

    But I now firmly believe that your response to michaelbusch’s #16 actually questioned the point (or lack thereof) of zoniedude.

    Argh. I screwed up: you were, I’m over 95% sure now, actually agreeing with michaelbusch, finding fault with #4 and only making sure your comment was *seen* by michaelbusch.

    mea 95%maxima culpa, wcorvi.

    Sorry if I diminished *your* contribution.

    At least some good discussion came out of it – doesn’t excuse taking you to task on something you didn’t do, but I’m glad there were **some** side benefits.

  101. =8)-DX says

    What I find strange about Anita Sarkeesan’s videos, is the huge disparity between what she’s saying and what the reactions or “criticisms” are.

    Everyone who’s played computer games knows there is and has been a huge amount of sexism and bigotry in the media. The TvWiVG series is just a knowledgable feminist pointing out specific instances of things we’ve always known were there. I remember “inventing” computer games back as a kid and I fell into a whole number of these tropes, I considered them natural. Pointing out how a given form of media is biased and the stereotypes it propagates is surely a constructive kind of deconstruction – it shows us how it would be possible to make new computer games without all this baggage, it also helps us understand the games we know and love, see what they are doing.

    If someone came out with a “animals in video games” series or “portrayals of war in video games”, it could be similarly interesting, but much less controversial.

    For me, when someone points out a general bias or stereotype, I think: Thanks! Now I understand a bit more of what is going on in my own head and society in general!

  102. says

    Crip Dyke @ #110 said:

    ***coercion and force*** are violations of justice and human rights regardless of what is being coerced/forced.

    Which is why we feminists have such a problem coming to a consensus on, for example, burqas*: can a choice to wear one actually be free of coercion? Even if it could be, is such a garment itself a signifier of coercion, and therefore unable to be worn without condoning the oppression of women?

    It can be difficult to draw a distinction between what is coerced by societal (i.e. patriarchal) expectations of gender expression and free choice, even for ourselves. Pluck your eyebrows, wear lipstick, wear large hoop earrings–are you just dressing yourself or are you consciously or unconsciously buying into the idea that this is how you must present** to be taken seriously*** as a woman? And if you don’t do all that, will you read, not as neutral, but either as pretending to masculinity (aka “butch”) or undesirably masculine (aka “ugly”), because there’s no such thing as neutral–our society sees masculine as the default and anything else “with a bow on it” as feminine. Zoniedude’s very criticism is just more evidence that Anita Sarkeesian is right and that it goes far beyond video games.

    *See also the feminist debates over porn and sex work
    **What politician, media person, or tv character over the age of 13 and under the age of 70 is female and doesn’t generally wear makeup and have suitably pared facial hair? They are few and far between.
    ***Which of course isn’t as seriously as you might be taken as a man/default human being. And in cases such as this, people like zoniedude will use the usual mandatory feminine signifiers to discredit AS and take her the opposite of seriously. As is more often than not the case, women can’t win.

  103. charlessoto says

    Excellent video. The reality was well described.

    My two favorite exceptions are Samus and Chell. In both cases, it makes no difference that the characters are female (except some of the jokes GlaDOS makes, sort of).

  104. BeyondUnderstanding says

    You guys will enjoy this…

    The video game blog, Rock Paper Shotgun (the only video game blog worth reading, IMO) wrote an article on this video. So refreshing seeing the same attitudes from Pharyngula mirrored on a popular video game site.

    Take A Bow: Ms. Male Character Explored