I have just watched most of a video by a Youtube user named feministfrequency (RL name, Anita Sarkeesian) entitled “Damsel in Distress: Part 2 - Tropes vs Women in Video Games.” I say “most” because I got the gist of where she was going with her argument in the first few minutes and for those of you who don’t have 25 minutes to spare and watch the video below, it can be summarised thus:
There are too few strong, real female characters in videogames. Instead we are presented with the “trope”, essentially a stereotype, of the “damsel in distress”. I guess that this is a fair enough observation because more often than not, that is the case in many a virtual storyline, but that’s not what I am here to write about.
Last night, feministfrequency reported through her Twitter account that an hour after she uploaded this video, she received an email that the Youtube community had flagged it as inappropriate and that it had been taken down (she appealed and the video was unbanned).
I know that you’re thinking a bunch of anti-feminist trolls were behind this and for the most part you would probably be correct. However, when I followed the link, I discovered that comments had been disabled for her video and that’s when I decided I had an issue with her post as well.
This article is not aimed at the maker of this video personally in any way, but this it is a result of my experiences surrounding it.
For me, there are two main points that stood out as a result of watching this video.
1. All comments were disabled for this video, thus taking away the public’s right to state their feelings towards this.
I would like everyone to note that I’m not sure whether she had posted the video in this manner from the beginning. I have contacted her to ask and will keep everyone updated in this respect. If this was the case, I feel that she does deserve the defence that some low-life individual developed a game about beating her up, the description of which reads as follows:
"Anita Sarkeesian has not only scammed thousands of people out of over $160,000, but also uses the excuse that she is a woman to get away with whatever she damn well pleases..Any form of constructive criticism, even from fellow women, is either ignored or labelled to be sexist against her.
"She claims to want gender equality in video games, but in reality, she just wants to use the fact that she was born with a vagina to get free money and sympathy from everyone who crosses her path."
Things like the above are completely unconstructive and in all honesty, completely imbecilic and disgusting. However, looking through her Youtube channel, I see that all her videos have the comments section disabled. I’m not sure whether this is a result of factors like the creation of the above game, but also it makes me wonder if that’s where all the anger from her viewing public stems from. When you take away people’s right to state their case, they have to find some other way to show you they disagree, like reporting your post until it gets deleted for example. I’m not condoning the actions of these people, but when humans feel powerless (as they do when you take away their space to provide rational argument), we strike out, regardless of whether it’s an appropriate manner or otherwise.
2. In all honesty, I am not a fan of any movement that propagates being excessively proud of having something that one shares with millions and millions of other human beings. It didn’t require any effort on your part to end up with certain genitalia or skin colour or anything that’s formed as a result of your chromosomes and genetic code. It’s not an achievement to be Caucasian or to have a vagina. At the same time, I also do not believe that it is ever, in any case acceptable to belittle someone or treat them badly as a result of the gene cocktail that forms their body. Essentially what I am saying is that, these things shouldn’t be a sensitive topic because the only reason they have any sort of importance is a result of someone’s misguided views towards how we should place value on another human being. I hold the belief that everyone is equal and has the right to be treated as such because we all share common humanity.
That being said, I am not blind to the fact that this orator-style brand of feminism exists because of its converse, orator-style sexism. However, I do not feel that it’s possible to change someone’s way of thinking purely by shouting (or in this case, usingpseudo-intellectual whining) your beliefs at that person without allowing them the opportunity to question you. It’s actually a bit fascist.
This is the internet, so people are going to say offensive things to you solely because they can…but among the trolls there are people who have actual, intellectual opinions that deserve to be heard. Separating ourselves from our readers or viewers does nothing to fix a problem because there cannot be any constructive discussion towards a solution.
In the case of promoting feminism in games, this separation makes it even more difficult to take your argument of “equal rights” seriously. Perhaps if we all stopped ranting about gender in videogames, it would get to the point where e-sports will have the category “best gamer” instead of the patronising title of “best female gamer”.
One of the perils of putting stuff in the public domain (I’m disregarding the ‘troll attraction’ factor) is that not everyone is going to agree with what you say. I feel that it’s pretty unfair to deny someone their right to state their opinion about or feelings towards what you have said by disabling comments. The relationship between yourself and the kind people on the internet who take the time to acknowledge the things you have put there should be symbiotic and positive as, aside from the fact that it's very interesting to hear other people's point of view (especially on controversial matters that spark debate), discourse benefits both parties as we get to learn about each other and constructive criticism received from these folk encourages learning and growth. I also feel that if you feel strongly enough about an opinion to create a verbose article of 1100 words, you should be able to speak with others about why you feel this way.
This is the internet. Take the trolling on the chin and to the rest say, "Come at me (with your opinions) bro!"
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