Bittersweet Critique: Anita Sarkeesian‏

hitmanI’m going to be very blunt in this rant. I’ve found myself drifting back towards this topic a lot, and for good reason. A woman known as Anita Sarkeesian has gathered millions of fans due to her views on misogyny in video games. Not only that, but she’s also managed to gather billions upon billions of angry gamers, debunking her outrageous claims. While the majority of gamers share my opinion on this woman, I’d like to analyze her views in a more critical sense.

First, let me state that, yes, I am female. Yes, I play video games. Yes, I believe Ocarina of Time is overrated. But that’s a rant for another day. Anita Sarkeesian hosts an internet series known as ‘Tropes vs Women in Video Games’. I’ve viewed the majority of these episodes, and found myself shocked at her biases. The fact that she lumps the majority of female characters in video games into the ‘helpless, useless, sex doll’ category proves that she obviously isn’t that much of an avid gamer. Yes, we’re all aware that Princess Peach is the stereotypical damsel in distress. But, as video gaming evolved, we’ve gained numerous strong, powerful female characters. Most notably, Lara Croft from ‘Tomb Raider’. She’s depicted as a strong, female protagonist in most of her incarnations. However, that’s not all. Bayonetta from ‘Bayonetta’, Samus Aran from ‘Metroid’, Faith from ‘Mirror’s Edge’, etc, are all powerful female leads. Even from one of my favorite games of all time, Portal, has a strong main female character. She doesn’t even have to speak, let alone show her face! And yet, Anita refuses to recognize that the gaming industry creates such interesting characters.

Anita always seems to contradict herself within her own arguments. On one end, she will complain that video game companies don’t allow players to choose the gender of the main character, or don’t have enough female-centric games. On the other hand, she will complain that female-centric games, or playable female characters, are misogynistic and unjust. I beg to differ. Playable female characters in video games such as ‘Pokemon’ and ‘Mass Effect’ aren’t the least bit misogynistic. Both the male and female playable characters undergo the same storyline, regardless of gender. As for female-centric games such as ‘Ms. Pacman’, those games are merely the result of the backlash from feminists. Translation: You complained that there weren’t any female-oriented games. There, now you have one. Not happy? Don’t play.

I am aware that in the past, there were traces of misogyny in video games. I’m not going to lie, I’ve been harassed in video game lobbies by ‘men’ (If you could call Mountain Dew-filled teenagers that). I’ve written an entire rant about the annoyances of both male and female gamers. However, as an industry as a whole, we’re doing better than most people give us credit. Strong, female characters are becoming more and more prevalent. Damsels in distress are becoming a thing of the past. Equality is in our reach. And guess what? We didn’t need Anita’s bullshit feminist agenda to help us. Media evolves with the times. As we become a more tolerant society, media changes too. Including video games. Video games began to evolve long before Anita’s little project.

Yes, I’m aware that it’s confirmed that Anita isn’t actually a gamer, despite her claims in a Kickstarter that she had been an avid gamer since the age of five. Yes, I’m aware that Anita practically scammed the majority of her backers on Kickstarter. Yes, I am aware that she never uses her own video game footage, and constantly steals footage from let’s players without consent or credit. Yes, I’m aware that Anita lied about some of the harassment claims that she apparently received. But, this isn’t about her. This is about her ill-informed accusations against the gaming community. This is about the stigma about all video gamers being misogynistic, women-hating, Mountain Dew-chugging losers that live in their mother’s basement. Anita supports this stigma. Meanwhile, video games have spread to a wider audience, including men, women, children and adults. We’ve been doing better than we’ve thought, guys.

 

By: Shannon Kasane

One thought on “Bittersweet Critique: Anita Sarkeesian‏”

  1. I’m proud of you for forming your opinions about such complicated matters… likewise, I’m worried about this rabbit hole you might be getting into. If you ask me, the real issue with female portrayals in games was never really the “Damsel in Distress” archetype versus the often misinterpreted “Strong Woman” portrait… it was (and it still is) about writing characters (female or not) that are actually third-dimensional, interesting and complex as opposed to flat caricatures without substance. With everyone focusing so much on the “over-sexualizing” aspect of women in games, many seem to be missing the importance of having some actual personality behind the inflated physical attributes… then again, I’m no more than a “gamer” than Anita is so whatever. Nowadays, I watch children’s cartoons to find well-written female characters 😉

    – Madhog.

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