Where all the Hate comes from

This is a very personal post. If you’re unaware of the events around gamergate or lack feminism’s 101, you won’t be educated by me here. 

After an intense discussion of the events around gamergate for an upcoming CMP round-table, I got talking some more about the internet mob and general hostility directed at women like Anita Sarkeesian with the excellent Roger and Sean. The comment that really kicked this off was Roger pointing out how Sarkeesian never actually condemns anyone for enjoying the games she’s covering; neither does she claim you’re a horrible person nor does she ask developers to stop creating violent content full stop. What she does for the most part, is pointing out how carelessly most of the violence against women is included in games and how it differs from violent imagery in general.

So why is this woman met, no stalked with such extreme aggression? Why can we observe similar irrational, emotional responses all the time when the topic is representation in games or a feminist concern? Some gaming press articles lately have identified a sub-group of “socially inept male gamers with female resentments” that are panicking at the prospect of the industry changing, as the main driving force behind the attacks on Sarkeesian or Zoe Quinn. While I have known few such individuals myself firsthand, it doesn’t explain why so many gamers from much more diverse backgrounds and areas of life are allying themselves with the gamergate or notyourshield tags. I’ve witnessed similar hostility to reasonable feminist concerns from some of the best people I know, so it’s clearly not just a few left-overs from 80ies gaming culture that like to sneer and spit when confronted with uncomfortable questions.

Everyone wants to be a good guy

I grew up in a very sexist family. Like most in similar situations, I didn’t realize this until much later in my life. My family was what I knew, what was normal. I knew my mother wasn’t in any way on equal footing with my father but I had never heard of the term feminism, only of emancipation in more negative terms every now and then. There was much that I hated about my past when I finally moved out at 20 but I had no name yet for the natural oppression of the women in our family context. I only felt acutely that we didn’t deserve to be treated like second class citizens.

I was also for a large portion of my life what I liked to call a tomboy. I preferred the company of boys – they shared my interests, they were easier to get along. I kinda deluded myself that I was part of certain clubs when I really wasn’t. Much worse however, is that I actively perpetuated my state of “not getting along with women”. I didn’t know why I had no female friends and in my book none of that was my fault. It was cool too, who needs women, right? Oh god.

The moment that first bubble burst was really painful; when I realized how I never really had a voice in my own family, how I didn’t stand up for myself or other women, how society treated me differently from men in many areas of life. The system is rigged against me. And men too in some ways. I had felt it hundreds of times like Neo in the Matrix but I hadn’t grasped the overwhelming picture up to the point when I started educating myself. I was angry, I was defensive. There was no way all of it could be true. But once you’ve become sensitive to these matters and you start going back, analyzing situations and becoming more aware of how people are treated around you on a daily basis, you can’t deny sexism any longer. Not the one targeted at you and not the one perpetuated by yourself. It’s a horrible feeling and difficult to face.

My second bubble burst a lot later, the question of why I don’t have female friends. I should probably add that I do have a very close female friend since childhood, but in many ways she’s a copy of me and I never managed to connect to another woman until I was 30, internet buddies aside (you are all awesome and I do owe you). The truth is I did want to have women as friends but I wouldn’t admit my own inadequacy. How can you not get along with 50% of all people? Around 30, things changed when I met a co-worker from Vancouver who I really connected with. It was scary as hell but it got me taking a hard look at myself and how I still treat women differently from men when by now, I should know better. And I’m not alone – I keep watching my female co-workers cheer on guys for being assertive while attacking women for the same traits, I witness jealousy, unsupportiveness and double standards that don’t apply to male colleagues and it makes me sick to my stomach. I don’t want to be like this.

It’s so hard to disconnect yourself from the culture you are taught by your parents and society around you, the one that is never questioned. It’s hard to accept that you’re part of a system and part of the problem. It’s much easier to get defensive and spiteful, to blame others or deny the truth. Growing pains.

Everyone likes to think of themselves as the good guy. [R.D. Precht, German Philosopher]

Nobody likes to hear that they’re part of an unjust system or that they’ve got privileges they do not deserve. Men and women struggle with the idea of sexism because they’re both complicit one way or another, before making conscious effort to question the status quo. Some take great offense at being called profiteers of the system, others take equal offense at the suggestion they might be systematically slighted, because they consider themselves strong enough and not part of “those other, weak women”.

Now, Anita Sarkeesian’s videos might not be condemning games or gamers but they constantly rattle the matrix. They force you to question what’s given and consider your own role and motivations. That path inevitably leads to bursting bubbles. It’s uncomfortable and painful – so much easier to unleash wrath upon the source of all that discomfort. The irrational hate directed at Sarkeesian is fueled by kicking and screaming fear. There’s no denying it: once you’ve opened that door, it truly is the end of the world as you knew it.

The Crusade against the SJWs

There is a waxing resentment being nurtured by gamergate and notyourshield exponents against so-called “social justice warriors” (and white knights). If you consider this briefly, it is a pretty horrible state to be in, to fight against social progress or those that speak for more inclusion and equality. How can anyone be against that?

This too, begs for a brief digression. I was for a period of my life a vegetarian for several reasons. I am not any more although meat is still a rare commodity in my diet. Anyone who thinks we eat animals for any better reason than because we can, is likely to get my eyebrow together with a link to Eating Animals. However, I was never a confrontational or preachy vegetarian. It was a personal choice and I wanted to be left alone just as much as I ignored others. I wasn’t complicated either, I’d eat whatever was left minus the meat when invited to friends. Despite all of that, my vegetarianism became the most unexpected and eye-opening social experiment for all the unprovoked hostility it exposed me to. I had people mock me, question my motives and trying to drag me into discussions of explaining myself. Some became instantly apologetic or embarrassed. My mere presence at some social gatherings was an issue, I was a spoilsport for no better reason than ordering ‘without the meat’.

I had never been aware of the deeply rooted, sacred ritual of eating meat/food together in our culture until I disturbed said ritual. I had become a point of vexation to some, like a silent reminder of all the questions they did not want to ask about their own consumerism. I didn’t mean to hold a mirror to anyone but it happened anyway. Genuine disdain was directed at me simply because I refused to be “complicit in eating meat”. I don’t know how many times I had someone tell me “you know, you’re not better than me” or “it doesn’t change a thing anyway”.

And that’s what “social justice warriors”, aka people who give a shit, do: inadvertently or not, they hold a mirror to anyone that chooses lazy complacency. They remind others that there are injustices yet to be fought right under their nose. Defensiveness and aggression are a typical reaction to feeling blame or guilt. Mocking those that care more than you do is a fine diversionary tactic.

No hatred more passionate than the hatred for a truth that hurts.

Truth hurts

Change isn’t comfortable. You can hide behind tone arguments but at the end of the day, if you’re at all committed to matters of social progress or equality, you have to accept that bubbles will burst. You have to accept pain and confusion on an existential level. And you will need to be brave.

The moments when you feel like screaming and kicking those who have caused your discomfort, are most likely the ones where you get to learn the most about yourself.

47 comments

  1. Absolutely excellent post, thank you!

    A lot of people put a lot of unconscious stock into their beliefs as a representation of themselves. You attack that belief, you’re attacking the person, which is why people tend to get so damn defensive in these conversations. So when someone is told they’ve been complicitly misogynistic by default in the grand scheme of things, you get the whole “Not All Men/Gamers” or #NotYourShield arguments.

    Honestly, I’d turn R.D. Precht’s quote on it’s head. Not everybody wants to be the good person, necessarily, but people certainly balk at being the bad one.

    1. Hey thanks :) Yeah, i can certainly get behind that too. Just telling someone they need to check a bias can get you in big trouble, let alone criticizing teh identify. I think it’s a little scary to identify with any group of people this much given how we are all individuals – sure, I can strongly identify with a concept or idea, but a whole bunch of peeps? No. Just because we’re gamers doesn’t make us anything much yet. That’s as if volkswagen drivers had everything in common. of course it also doesn’t help to lump people into one same group like some articles have done. it’s…difficult.

  2. Your anecdote about being a vegetarian reminds me of what it’s like to be an Atheist. The majority of people are consistently questioning your own personal beliefs. You do discover a lot about people when you challenge something they deeply believe in.

    Had a blast on the show with you guys.

    1. Same! I can’t wait to hear the result :)
      Religion is a great example of unquestioned status quo; we had a discussion the other day how being Christian in our culture, you can refer to your faith in conversation or even make it a reason for something that everyone just “needs to accept” – but try the same with atheism or being muslim and good luck to ya.

      1. I don’t know, my Buddhism (while a curiosity to many) has never been discussed with anything other than the normal gravity. Even people who had no idea what it actually was have always struck me more as “curious” and less as dismissive. As such its never been a problem.

      2. Hi Crow! fyi, I removed the WoT you posted earlier on my blog because it was obviously a copy-paste of your own article rather than a comment to my post. Your post is already backlinked in my comments so am not sure why it was necessary to also paste it. I am SYL by the way, not Syp – Syp is the one with the beard that doesn’t swear. ;)

        About Buddhism: I don’t know any Buddhists, I can only defer to what I experience firsthand and what friends tell me who are either atheist/agnostics or muslim. I could imagine that to ‘some’ Christians, Buddhism doesn’t register as a threat the same way atheism does. And I guess we can all agree the west has a very convoluted and diffused relationship where islam is concerned, anyway. I’ve never heard of anyone being a target because they were Buddhist around here.

  3. I think you nailed it when you said fear is the main motivator, and Talarian too with the comment about people’s strong (not always conscious) attachment to their ideas. It seems like people’s unexamined convictions, particularly about Big Ideas like gender, race, religion and morality, are often at the root of these controversies. Anybody raising questions about those ideas subtly threatens the unconscious foundations of ‘reality’ and it’s much easier to attack the questioner than their ideas, particularly if they’re not white, Christian, cisgender and male.

    So what the hell do we do? We know stuff these people don’t – about the limits of ones own perspective, the value of empathy in engaging diversity, the validity of experiences different from our own. How do we teach people to have civil discourse instead of attacking what is different? I don’t have any idea, but we’d better figure it out because our society is siloing into like-minded groups that interact with each other less and less. It scares me.

    1. I don’t know if society is getting worse – I don’t see it that way, personally, People talk about social justice more than they ever have, even if it’s just a subset of society. We get more choices for everything, from where our food comes from to how we get our information. The overall living standard in my country is better than 50, 100, 200 years ago and for more people. Et cetera.

      But you’re right, it’s hard knowing what to do and I feel the same about much of the cultural unpack we still need to do. I’d say give it time, don’t despair. Don’t radicalize. Live by example and try every day to be a positive influence on the little things you can.

  4. Your vegetarian story sure rings a bell for me, but with alcohol. I generally don’t drink alcohol – not for any religious or moral reasons, but because I found the experience and the taste not to my liking and would simply rather drink something I like. I don’t make any big deal about it, yet every time I go out with co-workers they freak out about me ordering something non-alcoholic and keep trying to coax me into having something else… because apparently someone not wanting a beer or glass of wine is deeply upsetting.

    1. This.
      People look at you differently and try to change your mind instead of just accepting it and letting you go on with your buisness. I have not had a drink for 6 months now and my life has really changed because of it. Its scary to see how much of the social events revolve around drinking. And how less often i get invited to things because I chose not to drink anymore. I’m abnormal because i don’t drink.

      1. It’s funny you two mention that because Roger and Sean told me the exact same story about England. I don’t drink myself either, so I can appreciate being the non-drinker spoilsport but it seems a significantly bigger issue in England.

  5. So very much depends on childhood and upbringing, which is, of course, the part of a person’s life over which he or she has the least choice or control. I was raised by a single-parent mother who worked full time and two retired Quaker grandparents. Consequently my deep-seated conceptions of what constitutes family, work and gender-appropriate behavior are non-typical for someone of my age, nationality and gender.

    Presumably due to selective choice (although that’s not how I would have seen it at the time) I was largely surrounded during my childhood, adolescence, college years and young adulthood by a somewhat like-minded peer group. I was in my early thirties before I became prepared to admit that men could be equal to women in almost any respect (my previous feeling and belief being that women were innately superior in every way that mattered). This was a point of view I expressed fairly often and which, among my social circle, male and female, was generally received somewhere on a rather small spectrum from strong agreement (as in “Duh! Well of course they are!”) to mild disagreement (as in “That’s a bit of a generalization, isn’t it? Surely it comes down to the individual?”).

    I never ate meat as a child because I wouldn’t eat any cooked food. I had to learn to eat all kinds of food at secondary school and by the time I went to University I had a normal, meat-eaters diet, which expanded through my twenties to the point where I would willingly try any food once to see if I liked it, and persevere with many even if I didn’t in case I might acquire the taste.

    In my very late 20s, for absolutely no ethical reason, purely to impress a girl I wanted to go out with, I became ” a vegetarian”. I haven’t eaten meat as a regular part of my diet in nearly thirty years. Again, in all that time, I don’t believe I have ever been directly criticized by anyone in any social group (friends, work, family) for not eating meat. My experience has been that a) just about everyone has had a period when they became “a vegetarian” and b) apart from zealots, no-one really cares what other people eat. Ditto drinking alcohol, which I do and have done since my teens but which several of my social circle don’t and never have – it’s always been seen as a lifestyle choice by my peer group(s), not any kind of political statement.

    The upshot of all this biographical waffle is that we all tend to exist in pods, a series of social Venn diagrams. Very much, really almost all, of the extreme behaviors I read about in the news or hear accounts from friends and colleagues, exists at one remove. The Venn diagrams overlap when people I know tell me they have experienced these things but these things, by and large, have not happened with any frequency or regularity in the social group in which I have spent time.

    Thinking that through, it’s not quite accurate. It would be more accurate to say that in most social cliques in which I have become embedded those individuals who did express strongly or obviously sexist, homophobic, racist (actually that one NEVER arises – real social taboo for the whole of my adult life, that one. Would get anyone immediately dropped from any social group I have known) attitudes would be chided, teased, or in extreme cases ridiculed by the group until either they recanted and changed their behavior or decided the group was not for them.

    I would suggest that the loose aggregate of bloggers in which I now find myself is another exemplar of this kind of social grouping. Observation suggest that elsewhere other rules apply. I don’t believe, however, that because a minority of bigots yell very loudly it means that bigotry is either normal or socially acceptable. In my experience it very much is neither.

    1. It’s certainly up to where you’re from and how lucky or unlucky you are in meeting the right people. At the same time, there’s also such a thing as cultural baggage and leitkultur that absolutely exists as a wider and more embedded issue – to just explain it via pods and venn diagrams doesn’t do it for me. Our society is a product of everything that came before it and we have institutionalized groupthink that is perpetuated via schools, media, politics etc. It’s nice if someone can completely isolate themselves from all that influence but my experience is that nobody can.

      I agree that the extreme examples are just that; to me, gamergate isn’t representative at all of gamers worldwide. Majorities aren’t vocal and most people have never even heard of Zoe Quinn. But everyday sexism is a lot more subtle and hard to spot for a great many.

  6. On the side of feminists and SJWs, I witnessed some pretty intense discussions recently over whether Joss Whedon is a feminist. I felt distinctly uncomfortable reading the whole thing, because I watched groups of feminists essentially beat on their own people for coming down on different sides of the debate, and poor Joss was caught in the crossfire for (potentially) not being feminist enough. One person in the so-called debate summed it up nicely for me by saying “we eat our own”.

    It’s things like this that make me realize that a lot of the hate directed at Anita and Zoe is part of our makeup as humans –like what you experienced when you got defensive when you realized what was really going on in your own head– and we have to rise above it if we’re to progress as a society.

    1. I should have mentioned, for those not familiar with Joss’ work, he created the television series’ Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Dollhouse, Firefly, and Angel. And he also directed The Avengers.

    2. Yeah, i do agree that it’s basic human psychology and defense mechanisms. The extreme reactions to Sarkeesian are completely irrational.

      I missed the Joss Whedon incident…..and feminists infighting and elitism is sadly a big part of why many women can’t get behind it as much as they would. But then, I think it’s also too easy to let yourself be alienated by human beings being human beings; in the end, we need to seek out feminism or social equality for our own sake. Nobody ‘owns’ feminism and just because someone’s a vocal or popular feminist doesn’t mean they always behave perfectly. That’s why also politically, I tend to follow ideas and objectives over people.

      1. The whole Joss is/is not a feminist came out of his tweets in support of Anita and Zoe, and it reminded me of the fights between sex-positive feminists and the anti-porn feminists.

  7. I think the you’re partially right, Syl. However, I think Western culture has come to grips with the fact that there has been a lot of bigotry in our history, including discrimination against women. But, we’re still not to the point where we understand what to do about it. Ask a dozen self-identifying feminists what we need to do and you’ll get at least two dozen conflicting answers, sometimes from the same person! An anti-pornography feminist is going to have vastly different opinions about how to fix sexism than a sex-positive feminist, although both fall under the same general banner of “feminism”. I think if there were a clear “this is how we fix the problem” there would be a lot less anger and anguish on the topic.

    Almost everyone knows that “sexism is bad” just as we know that “stealing is bad”, and people are going to react to being called “sexist!” the same way they react to being called “thief!” Most people will emphatically deny being a thief whether they are guilty or not, and going around lumping groups of people into the category of “thief” is going to ruffle feathers. Implying “all gamers are sexist” is going to provoke a reaction the same way saying “all poor people are thieves”. So, while Sarkeesian isn’t directly saying that gamers are sexist, she build her Kickstarter campaign on saying she was going to examine games from a feminist perspective. Pointing out the sexist elements in games is essentially accusing gamers of supporting sexism, at least in the eyes of the fans of the games she mentions.

    The second major problem with Sarkeesian’s videos is that Sarkeesian is not from gamer culture. She’s a “gamer”, yes, but most people are gamers these days; but there is a video of her saying she didn’t understand “gamer culture” before her Kickstarter campaign. It’s like the difference between a “cinephile” and a “movie goer”; the cinephile is going to understand movies on a much deeper level, and hearing a typical movie goer talk about “what’s wrong with movies today” will probably just get a bunch of eye rolling. Keep in mind that until about a decade ago, the term “gamer” was more likely to be used as an epithet, implying that the person was either a literal child, or a figurative child who never stopped “playing with toys.” Gamer culture still caries a lot of resentment from that, so an attack from someone not perceived as being from the culture will not be appreciated.

    One seemingly misunderstood element is that the audience for Sarkeesian’s videos are not really gamers. Her audience is feminists who agree accept her fundamental assumptions. Yet, her videos are positioned for public consumption, which means that it’s going to get covered in gamer press and going to attract the attention of people who don’t have the same background. And, anyone from gamer culture is going to easily be able to pick apart her examples to find where her knowledge of feminism far outdistances her knowledge of games.

    For example, in her “damsels in distress” video, Sarkeesian used a lot of examples from older games, such as the Super Mario Bros. games, games from an era when gaming wasn’t “cool”. Further, Sarkeesian ignores some cultural issues: Japanese culture is not Western culture, and Japanese culture has its own issues with sexism to deal with. Realize that Japanese is a language where women are expected to use different grammar than men, and women’s grammar is generally seen as being weaker and more passive. Pointing out that Princess Peach doesn’t get equal standing with Mario isn’t a problem with games, per se, but more a reflection of Japanese culture and the Western fairy tales about princesses needing to be rescued from the castle.

    But, I think any critique of sexism in games has to come with a real understanding of gamer culture for it to effect meaningful change. This is obviously complicated by the fact that gamer culture has been dominated by males (particularly white males) until very recently, so it will be hard to find a woman who understands the culture who wasn’t at least partially blind to the problems like Syl was to her family’s sexist behavior as she was growing up.

    I’m a big believer in equality, so personally, this is all a pretty frustrating situation. We have someone trying to address the issue but not doing a particularly effective job at reaching the people who need the message, which might be intentional on her part. We have people who should be listening to the message getting defensive instead because the videos don’t have an understanding of gamer culture. We have trolls on all sides that make the discourse much more difficult than it should be. In the end, I fear that this will only drive decent people away from the message of equality despite any noble intentions.

    1. “Keep in mind that until about a decade ago, the term “gamer” was more likely to be used as an epithet, implying that the person was either a literal child, or a figurative child who never stopped “playing with toys.” Gamer culture still caries a lot of resentment from that, so an attack from someone not perceived as being from the culture will not be appreciated.”

      That may be true, but the reaction to Anita’s work hasn’t exactly proved that they grew up, either. It’s more akin to a temper tantrum I expect from a preschooler, except with potentially more dangerous consequences.

      1. Whoa Brian – there you are quiet for months and then you come back with this WoT! hehe :D

        I’m not sure that it matters if Sarkeesian is a gamer by anybody’s standard or not; she plays games and she’s studied them for a while now. For some people that is more than enough. It might be that she can even criticize certain aspects better because she doesn’t have nostalgia and community-love tinting her glasses. In any case, I don’t think the “gamer” semantics battle has helped anyone. I do personally condemn the gaming press too for how they have treated the term lately (in fact you will hear me say this on the podcast). It was inflammatory and they perpetuated stereotypes.

        As for ‘how’ the femfreq videos can be improved, I’m sure they can be. There’s no indication by her that they are complete or finished. Quite honestly though, I do not believe there is any better or worse way to tackle the issue than she already is doing; there is always someone that will criticize you for being too harsh or too moderate. I get what you’re saying and in essence I agree, media need to find the most effective way to communicate but heh, this topic will always make people angry no matter what.

        And should you ever get to a place where nobody feels attacked by what you say, you have most likely not had any effect at all on people. The videos force gamers to evaluate their blindspots and yeah, that hurts. It’s challenging and infuriating because it’s suggestive of something – it can’t be helped that it is. The fact that some gamers feel that judged by her videos is telling by itself. And there are those who have thanked her for it.

        One more thing: I do not agree with you that ‘most people know about sexism’ today. :) It is easy to get behind condemning extremes like umm witch burnings and rape and such, but every-day sexism is huge and a lot more ingrained and subtle. I have had plenty of opportunity at my workplaces alone to tell someone they were acting sexist and not much has improved on these levels whatsoever. Heck, there are still men that think women shouldn’t earn as much as they do. I keep having conversations with my partner and all of my male and female friends about just how deeply our bias and unconscious programs reach. This is where the really hard work starts. And yeah it’s difficult to establish a common base or course of action – thousands of years of cultural and societal norms don’t get changed over night. The time frame at which the western part of civilization has started to consider social equality is a ridiculous amount of time. :) That’s why I’m a big picture person and believe in babysteps in my most immediate environment.

      2. Redbeard wrote:
        That may be true, but the reaction to Anita’s work hasn’t exactly proved that they grew up, either.

        There’s a word for when you lump a whole group together based on the actions of a few: stereotyping. Claiming gamers aren’t grown up because a few vocal trolls threaten Sarkeesian is like claiming all women are evil because you had a rough breakup with your previous girlfriend. There is absolutely no defense for the attacks and threats against Sarkeesian and others, but let’s keep in mind that these are the actions of individuals rather than damning a whole group as guilty by tenuous association.

      3. Do you think I stereotyped all gamers based on the actions of a few? No.

        But I also don’t think they’re disproving the classic Mountain Dew-living out of parents’ basement-don’t know how to act in public gamer stereotype, either. If anything, their behavior reinforces the stereotype, and all of us are tarnished by it.

        It’s embarrassing, it’s disgusting, it’s frightening, and it gives people who love to hate on gamers (and women) ammo.

      4. Syl wrote:
        …you are quiet for months and then you come back with this WoT!

        Life has been busy, and I’m starting to get a bit of a handle on it. I really should post on my blog again sometime soon. But, this is an important topic. Let me say that I appreciate that you posted about it and that you display your usual insight and intelligence that I’ve always appreciated on your blog. This is important, because too many people like to cherry pick the behavior of some bad actors and make broad statements. So, let me say: thank you for your post.

        I’m not sure that it matters if Sarkeesian is a gamer by anybody’s standard or not…

        It matters a lot if the goal is to effect change. If Sarkeesian is doing the videos just to be doing videos and then everyone can ignore them. But, instead, we see people using these videos to point out problems and as a rallying cry for change. People in gaming culture can likely see that Sarkeesian isn’t “one of them”, so they will treat the message, especially one that can be seen as critical, as suspect. Let me put this another way: how do the Swiss feel about Germans criticizing Swiss culture? Or, how do you think the Scottish feel about the English criticizing Scottish culture? People tend to look at the critique of an outsider with tremendous suspicion, particularly if the target group has felt attacked or marginalized in the past.

        Now, this isn’t to say that Sarkeesian should be forbidden from doing her videos. Hell no! I’m a big supporter of freedom of speech, and I would defender her right to say all sorts of things about games in a video even if I didn’t agree with them. I would also support meaningful debate from people who want to refute her theses (but, obviously, not threats of violence). But, if the goal is to effect meaningful change, I don’t think these videos are really helping. What I would love is for a smart feminist gamer to take Sarkeesian’s points and evaluate them through the lens of gaming culture; I think this would help effect more change. (Although I’m sure whoever did it would still be on the receiving end of a lot of abuse, because the trolls have been show that this is a terrific way to get attention.)

        And should you ever get to a place where nobody feels attacked by what you say…

        Woah, there. Attacks are not cool. The goal should be to get people to stop and consider the theses of the video, not for them to be “attacked”. Yes, I’m sure some people will still feel attacked; you can feel attacked by a fellow Swiss citizen criticizing your politics, after all. But, if we want people to realize the context of the media they consume, having the goal of people feeling attacked is absolutely the wrong goal to have.

        The fact that some gamers feel that judged by her videos is telling by itself.

        No, no, a thousand times no. Unless you believe that the outcry against a “video games cause violence” news story is proof that video games really do cause violence. Just like gamers resenting the mass media because they try to paint gamers as homicidal maniacs, gamers will resent the implication that they relish and enjoy sexist media. Even if that media does contain sexist tropes.

        One more thing: I do not agree with you that ‘most people know about sexism’ today.

        Note that I didn’t say we didn’t have sexism, I said people are generally aware sexism is a bad thing. It was once acceptable to tell racist jokes because racism was accepted, but now we experience the horrible jokes of our older relatives with embarrassment and shame. We’re on the cusp of that transition here, where outright sexism is frowned upon. People, particularly educated people, don’t want to be called “sexist” any more than they want to be called “racist”. Now, whether they really care if they are sexist in deed, and if they care to improve upon their sexist behaviors is a completely different issue. But, I contend the issue has gotten a lot more attention and sexist behavior is more condemned now than it was in the past. Calling someone a “male chauvinist” is absolutely not a compliment these days, unlike in the past where many people would relish the label.

        Anyway, let me repeat my appreciation for your post, Syl. I’ve always appreciated your thoughts on just about any topic, so keep up the good work.

      5. Redbeard wrote:
        Do you think I stereotyped all gamers based on the actions of a few? No.

        Except you did. Look at what I quoted in my response to you. Was that taken out of context? Was “they” referring to something other than gamers or gamer culture? You made a sweeping statement about a group of people based on the very visible temper tantrums of a few.

        I’m not trying to be an asshole here. This is really important to me, because I think one important step is for people to realize what their words mean and the consequences of their actions. Calling someone a “little bitch” has a specific meaning. Say gamers never “grew up” or are “preschoolers” has another very specific, and very hurtful, meaning. You cannot rely on stereotypes then decry someone else for doing the same thing.

        But I also don’t think they’re disproving the classic Mountain Dew-living out of parents’ basement-don’t know how to act in public gamer stereotype, either.

        Just like trolls in MMOs, the people being assholes is only a miniscule fraction of the total. There are a lot of gamer culture that simply shy away from this topic because of the behavior on all sides. Again, tarring a whole group with a judgement because of the actions of a few is something those of us fighting for equality should absolutely abhor. That’s how hate and bigotry spread, even if you feel you’re on the side of the angels and are tarring the “bad group”. History is full of bigots that thought the exact same thing.

        …it gives people who love to hate on gamers (and women) ammo.

        I learned long ago, and am reminded of this on a daily basis as a game developer, that there is only one person’s actions I can absolutely control: my own. I can certainly speak out against hatred and abuse, I can report it to the authorities, but I can’t stop it from ever happening. And, I also realize that speaking out carries a certain amount of risk. Some people seem to have become allergic to moral stances these days. And, as you point out in the “is Joss Whedon a feminist” example above, even people who should be allies may fall upon you for not being strident enough if you do speak out against hatred. But, again, if someone is going to use the actions of some trolls as ammo to damn a whole group of people, then they are no better than people who do precisely the same thing to women, or minorities, or poor people, or whomever.

      6. Actually, yes you did take it out of context.

        I meant “they” to be the people calling out the rape threats. Do you honestly think I meant ALL gamers?

        I’ve been a gamer longer than most people who self identify as gamers have been alive. I know the culture. I also know how certain gamers, such as the catpissmen and neckbeards, reinforce the stereotype among the general populace. I wince every time I read the “and this person played World of Warcraft” blurb next to some crime report. Hell, I have parents who, while still alive, also think that playing Dungeons and Dragons will land people into the everlasting embrace of Satanism.

        While most non-gamers aren’t so extreme as the religious veterans of the Satanic Panic are, the stereotypes still live in the minds of many. And behavior like this by a certain number of gamers doesn’t do anyone any favors.

        Even then, that’s a minor issue from the major point, that this subset of gamers is acting like a bunch of preschoolers throwing a temper tantrum, engaging in misogynistic, racist, and homophobic behavior because they think that’s how to shut Anita and Zoe up. They’re the person yelling the slurs from the crowd,* only they also have access to personal data and they don’t seem so afraid to use it.

        In my decades on the net, I’ve seen my share of empty threats, but I’ve also seen enough threats followed through to make me take pause whenever the bile really gets going. Because really, all it takes is one person to follow through.

        *I’ve been at high school football games as a teenager when people nearby me started yelling out racist slurs at the other team. When school administrators appeared, they vanished into the crowd, only to continue their abuse in another section of the stands.

    2. “Woah, there. Attacks are not cool. The goal should be to get people to stop and consider the theses of the video, not for them to be “attacked”.”

      You are misinterpreting words there, Brian. There is a big difference between ‘feeling’ attacked and being attacked. That’s what I was saying. I do not believe that AS attacks gamers in her video, far from it. She does nothing differently from other critical media journalism and she takes great pains to not generalize and criticize objectively rather than personally. And yet, some people still hear what they want to hear and all they can say after her videos is “butbutbut…” instead of being open to what she’s trying to convey. Sorry, it takes two to tango – communication isn’t a one-way street. If you really think she is in any way inflammatory we have to agree to disagree. Imho she does a rather fantastic job given her subjects.

      And she probably knows more about games than average joe gamer who has never been part of any early game culture either. Not even in professional journalism is there a standard that news reporters or critics must have served ‘so and so many years’ or have a PHD on their subjects – just to exaggerate a little, you get my point. If even personalities like Angry Joe can come along in public and say “I was being petty undermining AS because of her background, she really makes important points for all of us”, well…..
      So we have to disagree on that too. I really have no further wish to ‘defend’ AS to anybody.

      I read a lot of german, UK based and also US reporting on Switzerland by the way – am not sure why you think outside criticism would bother me. I endorse it and I think outside views are super important. Even if I feel they are wrong sometimes, it doesn’t make me defensive, it makes me think. But hey, I live in a small place that most of the time nobody gives a shit about anyway and everyone would love to visit ;) the US however seems indeed to have quite publicly an issue with being criticized from the outside, so maybe that’s also a cultural thing (or well, there is a lot more to criticize the US for due to their world politics).

      Anyway, I can recommend our round-table discussion on this at CMP :) it’s out now in case you’re interested.

      1. Sorry for the delayed response. Had to go to that job that keeps me so busy these days.

        Syl wrote:
        You are misinterpreting words there, Brian. There is a big difference between ‘feeling’ attacked and being attacked.

        No, I’m not misinterpreting. In a discussion it is vitally important that you take steps to make sure other people do not feel attacked. Particularly in online discussions, you know as well as I do that people will often misconstrue words and take offense when there truly is none offered. And, there’s absolutely no benefit for people to feel attacked; most will react defensively as has been noted and will not be receptive to the message if they do perceive even the most neutral speech as being an attack.

        I don’t know when you first started reading my blog, Syl, but I’ve very intentionally softened my tone over the years. I used to be full of vinegar and have a devil-may-care attitude. But, I’ve realized that did me no favors, and the only people who were listening where the people who already agreed with me.

        (Yeah, I know, in social justice circles this gets classified as a “tone argument”, but the reality is that if you want to communicate with someone then not coming across as attacking your audience it helps a lot.)

        And she probably knows more about games than average joe gamer…

        I never said Sarkeesian was ignorant about games, or that she didn’t have the right to do her videos, or that her main theses were wrong. I just said her message is not going to be as well received as it should be because she’s going to be perceived as an outsider, as not being a gamer. I did criticize her for ignoring cultural elements in the games she uses as examples, but that’s it. Disagreement doesn’t necessarily indicate disapproval, and it certainly doesn’t in this case. In fact, I explicitly said above that I would like her message to reach her audience more clearly.

        So we have to disagree on that too. I really have no further wish to ‘defend’ AS to anybody.

        And, this demonstrates my prior point: I’ve taken extra care to be polite, respectful, to carefully consider your points, and you still perceive me as “attacking” Sarkeesian and her needing to be defended, I guess.

        But, you know me, Syl. We’ve chatted a number of times before. We’ve emailed each other, and we’ve shared things with each other. I’ve very publicly defended you against attack from a few big names who were criticizing a prior blog post you made about defining games, if you remember. Yet, still, because I’m not in complete agreement with you on this sensitive topic there’s at least a bit of distrust between us in this discussion. Now imagine if I were some complete random stranger on the internet that wasn’t taking great pains to be very considerate; I wouldn’t magically become less wrong, but you would almost certainly perceive me as such.

        Now imagine how a long-time gamer routinely belittled and called juvenile for their interests is going to react to videos criticizing their preferred hobby along with a chorus of voices denouncing gamers as a whole, going so far as to say “Gamers are ‘over’.” (http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/224400/Gamers_dont_have_to_be_your_audience_Gamers_are_over.php You might recognize that author from prior interactions, Syl). Feeling attacked and having a defensive reaction may in fact not be just because they are sexist pigs who want to strike out at women.

        …am not sure why you think outside criticism would bother me.

        I’m not just talking about you, but about the average citizen. I know what it’s like when a Swiss person criticized Germans from one of my previous jobs, at least; there were tame words said in public and brutal things said in private. I saw the same thing with Irish and English and French and English at other jobs. Yes, you may be correct in that Americans take criticism from outsiders much harsher, but I don’t think this is a unique quality. People don’t like criticism from outsiders. This doesn’t mean they hate the outsider, though.

        As always, I hope that you will listen to my words and consider them carefully. I’m not one to throw around uninformed opinion. Ultimately, we’re on the same side here: the side that wants less bigotry, hatred, and injustice in the world. Hopefully people in the larger discussions can start building understanding.

    3. Redbeard wrote:
      I meant “they” to be the people calling out the rape threats. Do you honestly think I meant ALL gamers?

      You’re comparing someone to children. Children, particularly “preschoolers” don’t make rape or death threats. Threats of violence are more serious than a “tantrum”, which you again made equivalent in your other post.. So, if you’re not attacking gamers by using a common epithet, you’re equating very serious threats with childish behavior; and this is dangerous because we generally don’t treat the outbursts of a child very seriously because “they don’t know better.” Either way, your comparison to children is problematic.

      And, again, you cannot damn an entire group for the behavior of a few. Someone on Twitter supporting Zoe Quinn said that he would prefer the company of ISIS soldiers to people who attacked Quinn. Does that mean we should label everyone who defended Quinn as supporting terrorism? No. We accept this person is an extremist and treat his words as such.

      You’re defensive at this point, so I don’t expect you to admit you made a misstep here. As has been discussed in this thread, it’s really painful for people to face the fact that they do things like rely heavily on stereotypes. I hope that you’ll at least reflect on your words and the meanings they carry.

      As for your experience, I have mine. I ran a hard-core PvP game for over a decade. Abuse? Threats of violence? People finding my personal contact info? Yeah, been there, done that. It was almost entirely empty threats, but contrary to prevailing opinions in some places my gender doesn’t make me immune to threats. I absolutely do not support anyone being the target of that sort of abuse, but I also realize that the people making those threats were a small fraction of the people in my game’s community. But, these days it seems convenient to lump people into one category and damn them all together.

    4. Apologies beforehand for the WoT… and really, I’m not trying to dogpile here but…

      One seemingly misunderstood element is that the audience for Sarkeesian’s videos are not really gamers. Her audience is feminists who agree accept her fundamental assumptions…. anyone from gamer culture is going to easily be able to pick apart her examples to find where her knowledge of feminism far outdistances her knowledge of games.”

      Brian, are you sure about that? Critiquing (e.g. this has a problem..) generally is aimed at the creator. Reviewing (e.g. I like this, this game sucks) is aimed at the consumer. Culture-shaming (e.g. SJWs are…, Gamers are…) has its own distinguishing tone.

      Sarkeesian’s videos are clearly aimed at creators of pop culture. As a dev, who self-labelled at least a moderate feminist because “I believe in equal rights”, I thought that it was enough to have superficial equal representation (sprite swapping). While I may argue with Sarkeesian on her delivery/tone/research samples, I think she’s done a wonderful job of at least bringing visibility of the issues to this lowly moderate; enough to get off my keister and to go back and actually look at the tropes myself.

      Is her critique invalid because she’s an outsider? Roger Ebert doesn’t make movies. A world where only the inside circle can critique would be horribly incestuous. Do you have to take all her points at face value? Of course not. Most critique operates out of half-knowledge of the creation side of the medium; how it works technically, how it’s put together, the constraints. All that is disregarded. But why would that matter anyways? Knowledge of those things would only give you prescriptive and extremely subjective and inapplicable solutions; as someone who’s dealt with forum ‘design critiques’, you can surely relate to how an observational assessment is much more useful than prescriptive ones.

      Is her critique invalid because she has a feminist agenda? No. Forum feedback has a ‘gamer agenda’. You can weigh those bias into your own resolution, but I think we can both agree that dismissing feedback outright on either tag is just doing yourself a disservice.

      The biggest flaw with the videos? They’re too bite-sized to adequately avoid projection. She starts the tropes with a barrage of snippets. Then proceeds to frame it in feminist terms and framework. No, not capital-F feminist which we’ve all come to associate with raging against everyone. These are real terms borrowed from the same academic research. Terms that through misuse by others have charged them with an instinctual knee-jerk accusatory feeling. Much like #GamerGate is associated with misogyny and death threats – despite the fervent protest of those still using it – any feminism terms are tainted by whomever you deem are SJW and their subsequent behaviours. To her credit, Sarkeesian does try to take some time near the end to explain the terms and framework in more detail. But it’s mostly too little and too late. As by that time, most viewers have already made up their minds that “she’s just a biased SJW”, opening her up to criticism about agenda-bias.

      For example, in her “damsels in distress” video, Sarkeesian used a lot of examples from older games, such as the Super Mario Bros. games, games from an era when gaming wasn’t “cool”.

      Considering that a lot of designers grew up with those games, I think it’s very apt to include them. Even more so when she starts to show Indie games where we’ve imported every single one of those ‘not our tropes’ into the modern western game industry. You can say we’re paying homage to the old classics, but then I’m having a hard time to figure out which is worse: a conscious decision to import said tropes or the inadvertent importation due to ignorance.

      Pointing out that Princess Peach doesn’t get equal standing with Mario isn’t a problem with games, per se, but more a reflection of Japanese culture and the Western fairy tales about princesses needing to be rescued from the castle.

      Tropes manifest themselves because they are a reflection of culture. The whole point of the exercise is to point out the tropes. If you start excluding tropes because they’re based on existing structural sexism, racism, or discrimination in culture then you won’t have any tropes to talk about. For example, “man-baby gamer” is a trope because at some point in time it existed enough that it became a cultural stereotype. But by that very reasoning, we can’t discuss nor dispel it because it’s been protected.

      We have people who should be listening to the message getting defensive instead because the videos don’t have an understanding of gamer culture.

      Indeed.

      1. dataferret wrote:
        Apologies beforehand for the WoT… and really, I’m not trying to dogpile here but…

        Have you not seen the other posts here? :) You’re hardly the worst offender. And, I appreciate another respectful, considerate voice in the discussion. I’m earnest when I say this is an important topic to me and I would love to have the issues addressed more effectively.

        I apologize if this seems a lot more brief than my other replies. As I mentioned, I’m rather busy and I’m trying to take a lot of extra care with my words in these discussion. It takes a lot more time to do so.

        Sarkeesian’s videos are clearly aimed at creators of pop culture.

        Still, her audience is not “gamers in general” but a more specialized audience. A friend of mine said her videos seem like something that should be shown in a 200-level media studies class; he has a Masters in Media Studies with a focus on Game Design, so I do tend to trust his judgement. But, there’s a problem in that her videos are being directed at gamers in general, and I hope we can both agree at least that this is not the intended audience, even if we can quibble over who the real audiences is.

        Is her critique invalid because she’s an outsider?

        Again, I’ve never said her critique was completely invalid or wrong. My only point in this discussion is that her critique is not going to resonate with gamers because she’s going to be perceived as an outsider to the culture. Like a middle-aged, middle class guy criticizing urban culture is going to be seen as an outsider to that culture and therefore less worth of attention even if he has valid points.

        Let’s take Ebert, since you brought him up. Ebert was not a (constant) movie maker, but he was a cinephile. He knew a LOT about movies. He could discuss the making of movies even though his own work was not very successful. Ebert stands apart from a “movie goer”, even a very frequent movie goer, with his knowledge. A real cinephile will be able to drop clever references, understand a lot more context about what’s going on, and know a ton of trivia.

        There’s no term for what a “cinephile” is to gaming. I’m using “member of gaming culture” to separate that out from simple “gamer”, which describes damn near anyone these days. Sarkeesian may be a gamer, but she’s not a member of gaming culture. She doesn’t understand games on the same level that Ebert understood movies. (Hell, I’m not sure I even understand games as deeply as Ebert understood movies.)

        And, again, this isn’t to say that Sarkeesian can’t make her videos or doesn’t know anything about games, or that her theses can’t possibly be right. This is to say that gamer culture as a whole not accepting the videos has anything to do with gamers being inherently sexist by virtue of being gamers.

        Let me say I’m honestly glad that Sarkeesian’s videos have inspired you. I’m glad you learned something from them, that you have taken steps in your own work to improve it, and that you have made a choice to work towards inclusion. I mean this with all seriousness, because as I’ve said repeatedly, this topic is honestly very important to me. It really has been dispiriting to see the way this message has not had the effect it could have.

        As for cultural issues, I’d love to discuss them more but it’s nearing time I head to bed, otherwise work is going to be really rough on me tomorrow!

      2. As for cultural issues, I’d love to discuss them more but it’s nearing time I head to bed, otherwise work is going to be really rough on me tomorrow!

        Likewise. Take your time as I’d rather have an insightful convo than quick one. I’m going to roll with the Ebert thing so this might get long. Fair warning.

        Big Disclaimer: sexism by formal definition is very encompassing. Just to put it out there, hostile sexism is what most people think of when they’re called sexist. Think of sexism as a sliding scale from “really bad” to “we’ll deal with it later”. Me calling someone on being sexist doesn’t mean they were out all night bludgeon a women and tying them to train-tracks. It’s a horribly tainted word, I agree, but short of getting all academic, I’m going to leave it at that and hope any reader can get the gist without suffering from reflexive shock syndrome.

        Still, her audience is not “gamers in general” but a more specialized audience. A friend of mine said her videos seem like something that should be shown in a 200-level media studies class.

        I agree with your friend. 100-level courses prime you to get in the mindset that critiques aren’t about you. By the second year, you can honestly critique a movie that you even hold dear. …or you break down and cry.

        For this reason, I grapple with discussing anything of worth over the internet at all.

        There’s no term for what a “cinephile” is to gaming. I’m using “member of gaming culture” to separate that out from simple “gamer”, which describes damn near anyone these days.

        Sadly, this analogy starts to break down. I think you have to flip it. A cinephile would be someone who loves all movies, not just a specific genre. The ‘member of gaming culture’ is akin to the Michael Bay fan* who might represent the majority (within the movie-goer demographic) but is spectrum-niche (within the possible subset of movies).

        * hand-waving generalization.

        Roger Ebert is indeed the cinephile. He was a person who lectured at UChicago and stood in line to watch arcane art films. A real gamer equivalent of cinephile could not by any definition be against the inclusion of more varied forms of games. They by definition, would seek out arcane art games about depression or sexism issues. They can think a specific embodiment of those themes is crap, and that’s all right. But “don’t mess with my games” is not what one would expect from a gamer version of a cinephile.

        Sarkeesian may be a gamer, but she’s not a member of gaming culture. She doesn’t understand games on the same level that Ebert understood movies.

        This is to say that gamer culture as a whole not accepting the videos has anything to do with gamers being inherently sexist by virtue of being gamers.

        Just like Roger Ebert, Sarkeesian shares the same characteristics of a cinephile. Her breadth in topic analysis is almost as wide (ranging from AAA, down to indies, and even past classics). But, if the levied criticism is that she can’t talk about game X because she’s not a Real Gamer; then, the analog would be that Roger Ebert can’t talk about Transformers because he’s not a Michael Bay fan – who is one, by synthetic definition, someone that has spent 1000 hours watching the half dozen or so Bay movies end-on-end. In fact, he panned the Transformer sequels after spending a measly two hours on them – or so I’ve heard. Another variation levied was that her /played time was merely post-hoc research-focused and not because she was a Gamer. Ebert clocked most of his movie watching time on the job.

        This is the problem. Both you, I, and the majority of current gaming fandom are probably fine thinking that Roger Ebert can criticize Michael Bay movies. In fact, your defense of Roger Ebert would likely hinge on that fact that he is a cinephile – someone who’s taken the time to look beyond the narrow niche that is all-things-bayageddon. He’s telling Bayists that their movie (and by allusion, most of the past Bay movies they’ve devoted hours on) is technically inept, or even boring compared with the possibilities. They’re told that their favorite 360 Bayhem shot is overused and that there does indeed exist more than one type of cinematic shot.

        I dunno. Maybe we, Gamers, really are the Bayists that start tumblr blogs decrying that “Ebert hates Bay”. If the battle cry is staunchly that only Bayists can critique Bayism (not just as an faux excuse for what I’ll describe below), then sadly the gaming mags were right in calling the death of Gamers.

        If on the other hand, we’re more intelligent and open to discussion, we start picking apart the criticism. That is good. But what fails – and looks like it failed horribly in this case – is when denial sets in. You can’t take a Bayist seriously if she says there are no 360 Bayhem shots. I can however accept that sometimes the Bayhem shot makes sense. It makes sense for dynamic action scenes and tension. But there’s a very large difference between standing your ground belligerently vs owning up to using a trope. And Bayhem is indeed a trope, as he uses it always without rhyme or reason. Execution of those shots might be excellent, but the critiques stand because they were never about that aspect of execution. Bay’s inability to understand himself why he uses it and his ineptness at choosing when to use it makes him a half-joked director outside of his fan-base.

        Sarkeesian’s videos are basically the equivalence of this one titled “Michael Bay – What is Bayhem?”

        But instead of the Bayhem shot, it’s female tropes. Layers upon layers of it. Sadly, feminism, sexism, objectification are all trigger words while Bayhem is not. As such, the Gamer reaction boiled down to staunch denial.

        Let’s for the sake of argument entirely disregard Sarkeesian’s treatment by some members of the Gamer culture. That’s irrelevant for this point. You ask whether the aforementioned systemic denial is a reflection of the inherent sexism of Gamers? Yes, that’s exactly the definition regardless of one’s conscious intent.

        No one likes being called sexist – I get that. Syl, Talarian, et al makes a point of that too. But you, I, and most other people that don’t deal with the short end of the stick view sexism as something one has to have proactively done. That’s just the extreme end of the scale though. The scale is long, and the non-action of denying that it exists is a vote for the status quo. The status quo being of course the unchecked use of these tropes which reinforce existing cultural norms. While it isn’t overtly hostile sexism, these tropes are still a form of sexism – albeit milder and more deeply ingrained and intertwined with culture at large. It reinforces the next generation on how women have to behave.

        It is ironic and sad that the very reason Gamers don’t want to validate the tropes is they’re under the misguided assumption that doing so will make them Sexist. So as expected, they have to hold the position that these tropes aren’t valid. Which was entirely the wrong position to take as they could have enjoyed the media in which these tropes existed just fine without being called sexist. It’s the blind denial against any and all evidence that causes one to acquire that label; not by the act of living in the culture that holds it. We all live in that culture.

        When those videos originally aired, the only people that Sarkeesian could even potentially call out as sexist were the enablers: the creators, the developers. But she didn’t “shame” the industry. She just pointed out that these tropes existed. Gamers though played a game of intercept and made it about themselves. I love them for feeling that strongly about stuff we make, but on the flip side, this is why you don’t ever air deep cutting critiques outside the industry or academia without priming.

        But, if the goal is to effect meaningful change, I don’t think these videos are really helping. What I would love is for a smart feminist gamer to take Sarkeesian’s points and evaluate them through the lens of gaming culture; I think this would help effect more change.

        – pulled from your other convo, but applicable

        Here’s the weird part. In this case ‘all roads lead to sexism’. This isn’t some twisted feminist logic. It’s just the consequence that the definition includes ‘conditions or attitudes that foster stereotypes based on sex’. If like you imagine, the denial is driven primarily a symptom of ‘royalty trending towards obscurity’ then denying the tropes exists because of gamer-cred is still construed as a passive form of sexism. We’ve now require an additional condition that a known extreme minority within this subset Gamer has to have enough critical feminism background to give a convincing report that isn’t just passed off as a SJW rant. She, or he, has to be one of us. But by the insidious nature of ‘Us’, that just means she already has to tow the party line. This Gamer culture that we speak of hasn’t been the poster child of a safe environment (yes, a trope) so the probability of this outcome is pretty much nil. This is especially true considering that knowledgeable feminist discourse isn’t something you spontaneously sprout like a Matrix line “I know feminism”.

        Stacking the deck is a defensive measure for sure. Congressmen or mainstream media are censored because they’re not gamers. Feminists are not gamers. Well, we’re progressive here; THAT feminist is not a Gamer; I want another one.

        It’s not hard to see that defensive stacking is an entirely irrational barrier that moves as needed to keep the defenses up; pretending that it’s rational won’t make the reality that it is designed to be exclusive. You’d shake your head at the Bayist that tries this tactic; why legitimize it here?

        Most people aren’t trying to be viciously sexist when throwing up defensive screens. It’s ends up being a natural outcropping because we actually have a word for sexism and none for the others (Congressmen-ism?) Someone pointing it out shouldn’t be taken as a direct assault on you. You’re not sexist. That constructed barrier you just inadvertently erected around you is. Again, in this case, you as an actor with agency, only becomes sexist when you take an intentional stance to deny, or even worse, further promote it.

        Disturbingly, part of me wishes that you’re wrong and that the denials are part of that reflexive sexist response. That’s actually solvable by the simple “Oh gee, ya – that’s bad. Think before using tropes Devs.” Almost no action by the Gamers and by the stroke of the pen, they’re no longer ‘sexist’ at least with regards to Sarkeesian videos. Gamers have actually done it before many times whether they realize it or not – the industry output is a lot cleaner than it used to be. Hopefully this is just a reaction to having just found out there’s still a loooong way to go after patting ourselves on the back for cleaning things up.

        The last possibility in all this is that Gamers are just downright intentionally sexist, and that the denials are not at all a matter of reflexive rationalizing. I’ve left it for last because I don’t even want to entertain that option for my own sanity.

        Fun fact: Roger Ebert actually liked the first Transformers. Enough to give it three stars. His motto was to watch it as the intended target audience for that movie, not as a formal critic – part of why his reviews were so popular. He failed horribly for most other Bay films; he just couldn’t bring himself to do it.

      3. Hey guys
        I’ve closed comments down temporarily because I am receiving too much hate spam to deal with for the moment.
        You clearly have more to discuss though and on wider topics, so I would encourage you to open your own posts or take it to email. Threaded comment sections aren’t really ideal for extensive WoT debate of sensitive issues anyway. Cheers.

  8. I found the vegetarian analogy really powerful as well since my partner is veggie and has been confronted by plenty of prejudice from random people in social situations (I’ve witnessed some of this myself). The capacity of people to make snap judgments about those different from themselves never ceases to disappoint me…

    1. Oh dang! Yeah, as I just wrote to Crow further up, he didn’t leave a comment here but actually copy-pasted his entire article that is already published on his blog and already backlinked in my comment section. I kinda don’t dig that – sorry it crossed with your reply though! :) maybe you wanna leave your comment to Crow’s article on his actual blog?

      1. Actually, chicken and the egg. My comment here came first, bounced around since it got long and went into the text editor for a bit and then ended up posted in two versions in different places since I’m more interested in the discussion. My apologies.

  9. My sense of justice tells me shit is not going the chicks way for at least 2000 years.

    Fuck authority!

  10. This is an incredibly thoughtful post. I have to say, in my house, us girls are the ones at the top, because it’s my dad and brother against four females. And while that’s how it is in my house, I’ve noticed things are much, much more different outside. It’s true: everyone likes to think of themselves as the good guy, and when everyone is a good guy, that’s when the world turns bad. Ironic, isn’t it?

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