By now most corners of the internet are aware of the hatred that’s been dealt to Anita Sarkeesian purely for voicing an opinion. Daring to breach the male-dominated world of video gaming has been met with disproportionate abuse, harassment and threats made to a woman purely for voicing issues she sees within a culture of games and gamers, and to call it a ridiculous response is to understate the matter to a huge degree.
Let’s set out the “problem” here:
A woman who has an interest in analysis and analytical thinking has pointed out the lack of equal representation of women in video games.
Apparently the only issue here is the inclusion of the second word of that sentence. As a middle-class white male aged 18-40, I’m not in any position to have felt the difference. As a male gamer, it doesn’t always jump out at me that the overwhelming number of games I’ve played have had male protagonists, and that the ratios of games I’ve played with strong female protagonists is skewed heavily on the side of the male majority. It’s not always been obvious to me, although I’ve personally never seen a problem with a female protagonist – I’m a long-term fan of the Tomb Raider series (even an apologist for the weaker games), I loved Mirror’s Edge and I’m eagerly looking forward to the sequel, and my love for the Portal games will probably never die.
The problem here is that of the games I’ve played since I bought my PS3 back in 2007, these are the only three I can think of that have a dedicated focus to female protagonists – and even then, the character of Chelle in Portal (or even GLaDOS) are not delved into with particular focus. Whether or not you’re a misogynist who don’t want no girl character to play, or a gamer who’s played the games they want regardless of main characters, it’s an undeniable fact that women are represented in a minority of starring video game roles. What you want to make of that is up to you, but Anita Sarkeesian has made it clear that it’s something she wants to discuss, and voicing an opinion is not necessarily an attack on the players.
I don’t always agree with Anita Sarkeesian’s point of view, although I’d be an outright liar if I said she hadn’t given me a lot to think about. And as with any analytical thinking, I think her discussions sometimes read a fair bit into something that might not have been intended that way (I’m monumentally guilty of this too in my film reviews).
But that’s not the issue.
I can’t see any reason why being a female gamer devalues her opinion in any way. I can’t for the life of me understand what would prompt masses of petty little fools to continually attack her, either on a level of mere trolling or some of the more serious abuse that would have justified her locking her doors and never setting foot outside again. I don’t understand how someone can feel it’s completely acceptable to say some of the reprehensible things I’ve read to anyone, let alone to be a part of a targeted attack on a specific individual.
However, I do think it’s a triumph that she’s still going. If nothing else, it’s good to see that the angry cries of idiots haven’t deterred her from her goal to discuss these issues. And at the end of the day, that’s all it is – a discussion. It’s not a war, it’s not an insult, it’s nothing more than an opinion that is pointing out some very real discrepancies in the gaming culture, and through her Tropes vs. Women series, pop culture at large.
I’m going to ask you to read or watch some of her articles and videos. I’m not going to ask you to agree with them, just to consider them. The link is HERE.
Then read THIS and tell me if you think any of it’s deserved. (Here’s a hint: it’s absolutely not)