You all know that I don’t usually bring my politics into the world of Veteran Gamers, at least not without someone asking my opinion. But just this once I’m going to make an exception. Fortunately we’re a pretty enlightened bunch around here, so I hope you’ll forgive my intrusion.
A woman named Anita Sarkeesian runs a website called Feminist Frequency, which uses short videos to examine representations of women (and men) in popular culture. I really like Ms. Sarkeesian’s work. She explains things clearly and the videos are crisp. (I also agree with everything she says, but I think I’d like ‘em even if I didn’t.) The FF video about The Bechdel Test is especially good.
Recently she started up a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for a series of videos about video games. Here’s her pitch:
Now. Those of you who have been around games culture for a while can imagine what happened next. All the insecure, whiny dorks out there (who are basically the reason we started this community) lost their minds and went after Ms. Sarkeesian — vandalizing her Wikipedia page with pornography, sending violent threats over email, and writing insipid, insulting, vulgar stuff in the YouTube comments. Without intending to, these geniuses proved one of the reasons why her video series is a good idea.
Fortunately, lots of cool people responded in a righteous way to this sadness, and her project has received three times as much as she set out to raise. As many of them point out, your opinion on female representations in games is irrelevant here — the question is: Can we even have a civilized discussion about these topics, or will the hysteria and anger from privileged, entitled boys and men overwhelm everything?
Those of you who read my blog or listen to that SynCast thing of mine know that I’m a huge fan of a guy named JaySmooth, who does a video blog called IllDoctrine. He made a video about the whole Feminist Frequency brouhaha recently, and — as always — he does a great job of putting into words many things swirling in my brain.