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Women, Videogames, & Harrassment, Oh my!
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Khatja
Posted: Jun 12 2012, 12:04 PM


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I wanted to share a kickstarter project, Tropes vs. Women in Video Games, with you all, not necessarily so you'd donate to it (she's already well past her initial funding goals), but because I think it's important that people know that this kind of stuff is happening. Not the campaign itself , which is for a series of videos that talks about stereotypes of women as they are represented in games (although that's interesting too), but the extreme backlash to it. Anita, the project creator, writes about what she's experienced in the fourth update on the project:

QUOTE
The intimidation and harassment effort has included a torrent of misogyny and hate speech on my YouTube video, repeated vandalizing of the Wikipedia page about me, organized efforts to flag my YouTube videos as "terrorism", as well as many threatening messages sent through Twitter, Facebook, Kickstarter, email and my own website.  These messages and comments have included everything from the typical sandwich and kitchen "jokes" to threats of violence, death, sexual assault and rape.  All that plus an organized attempt to report this project to Kickstarter and get it banned or defunded.


You can see screenshots of the wikipedia vandalism here, and some youtube comments here, or you can just go to the actual youtube page and read them as they continue to be added. I went and refreshed the page after typing that last sentence and this was posted 23 seconds ago: "WHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOORE­! IF I FIND YOU, I _WILL_ RAPE YOU." At other times, in addition to the misogynist slurs and comments, she has also been called a nigger and a jew (as an insult).

Even if you don't agree with everything she says, or you think she might say later in her videos, about games, tropes, or women in media, I'm sure you can agree that this kind of attempt to keep her from talking about those things is wrong. Many of the people piling on the bile are gamers who are angry that she's daring to say something not-nice about their favorite hobby. If we want video games to continue to grow as a medium, we have to talk about them. We don't have to agree on everything, but we do need to be able to mention that, hey, maybe we should tone the sexist stereotypes, and have a discussion about that, without calling people cunts, or thinking that someone is trying to take away our toys. While I'm sure most of you here already agree with that, I think it's likely that you might not know just how against it some people are, and that's why I wanted to share this.

QUOTE
I am certainly not the first woman to suffer this kind of harassment and sadly, I won’t be the last. But I’d just like to reiterate that this is not a trivial issue. It can not and should not be brushed off by saying, “oh well that’s YouTube for you“, “trolls will be trolls” or “it’s to be expected on the internet”. These are serious threats of violence, harassment and slander across many online platforms meant to intimidate and silence. And its not okay.

 
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Sahn'jin
Posted: Jun 12 2012, 12:51 PM


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I've never really understood the mentality behind flaming people (internet or otherwise), especially to the point where truly criminal harrassment and criminal threats are being used. I just can't wrap my mind around the thought processes that have to occur for someone to behave that way.

Sure, Normal Person + Internet Anonymity + Audience = Total Fucktard, and I accept that formula, but it doesn't mean I "get" it. I have a particular view of the world and how things should work. I disagree with A LOT of people on MANY things. I'm stubborn and eccentric.

However, that aside, those that disagree with me should be free to express their viewpoints... except I think they should be held to the caveat that their viewpoints are expressed through reasoned arguments that stand on their own merits, without lowering themselves to insulting the opposing view or harassing the person(s) arguing in favor of that opposing view.

The only explanation for such behavior I've ever been able to come up with is an overwhelming amount of ignorance on the part of the harassing party. Where this comes from is still unknown to me.

I haven't even read this woman's point/argument for what she wants to see changed, so I can't agree or disagree with her. However, regardless of whether I would agree with her or not, she must be allowed to express her viewpoint to the world and ideally be free from any rebuttals that attack her, rather than perceived flaws in the subject matter.



TL;DR: WTF is wrong with people?

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Zularim
Posted: Jun 12 2012, 12:59 PM


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The deliciously ironic thing is that by hating on her videos so hard they're actually supporting her. More views means she has a higher likelihood of becoming a youtube partner or whatever they're called. The thing where they get a cut of the revenue gained by traffic on their videos.

The undeliciously sad thing is that there will always be the ignorant masses sitting on the outside of an otherwise intelligent discussion yelling ignorant shit. This discussion is going to happen, but I fear it won't change anything honestly.

Another sad thing is that the way she's going about it is divisive at best. She's taking bad comments and giving them a billboard. That's exactly what these trolls want. And by the way she's presenting it, she's dividing the gaming community forcefully into two camps based on their views: The side that's misogynist and isn't. Or at least that's the way I perceive it. I think it would be interesting if instead she were to include the ridiculous male tropes as well.

I know some of this isn't worded the best way that I could, and I'll address that later and elaborate on what I mean if necessary, but I need to like go take a shower and get ready for work.

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Khatja
Posted: Jun 12 2012, 02:38 PM


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QUOTE
This discussion is going to happen, but I fear it won't change anything honestly.

Why? Do you think that things simply CAN'T change, or do you think that it's discussion that can't change things? If you don't think discussion will change anything, what do you think will?

QUOTE
She's taking bad comments and giving them a billboard.

She discusses her reasoning for bringing attention to these kinds of comments:

QUOTE
I went back and forth about whether or not to share this publicly because I don’t want to inadvertently encourage this kind of behavior or scare other women into staying silent out of fear something similar may happen to them. But ultimately I’ve decided I’m going to document and strategically share what is happening to me because these types of online harassment tactics are used against women, feminists and people from oppressed and marginalized groups every day.


Ignoring bullies only goes so far. You can't just close your eyes and pretend that these things aren't happening, or they'll just keep happening. You also can't fight back against it if you don't even know it's happening. And I don't think it's fair to expect individuals, one at a time, to try and handle the troll legions of the internet on their own, in silence, without complaining. Furthermore, if no one mentions that it's happening to them, other people who are experiencing the same thing might think that they're alone, or it's just them, and not realize how ingrained this crap has become as a part of internet culture. These are some of the reasons I wanted to share this with everyone here, because this shit happens, and people should know that it happens, and that it's not a small thing.

QUOTE
she's dividing the gaming community forcefully into two camps based on their views: The side that's misogynist and isn't.

She's pointing out that she's being harassed, how is that dividing the gaming community? The fact is, some gamers are misogynist and some aren't, but those "camps" can apply to any group of people, and I don't remember her making this distinction anywhere (let me know if I overlooked it somewhere). Either way, how is speaking out against misogynist gamers worse than mysogynist gamers speaking out against women voicing their opinions? Why is being inclusive of mysogynist gamers important?

QUOTE
I think it would be interesting if instead she were to include the ridiculous male tropes as well.

That would be interesting, but what she's doing is also plenty interesting on its own. There are a million interesting topics about video games she could investigate, but this is what she decided she wanted to do. Also, I don't see what this has to do about her dividing misogynist and non-misogynist gamers.

Looking forward to hearing you elaborate more when you have the time.
 
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Zigra
Posted: Jun 12 2012, 03:31 PM


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My wife used to kick my ass in Intellivision "Burgertime." I don't know much but I do know at least one woman that used video games to harrass me.

This post has been edited by Zigra on Jun 12 2012, 03:33 PM

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Sahn'jin
Posted: Jun 12 2012, 03:34 PM


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QUOTE (Zigra @ Jun 12 2012, 04:31 PM)
My wife used to kick my ass in Intellivision "Burgertime."

You are a modern day relic, and I love it. I had BurgerTime on my Atari 2600... er, I still do have it, actually.



PS -- Girls can't play video games! /sarcasm

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Hi, my name is Sahnjin, and I'm an achievement whore.
 
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Abotu
Posted: Jun 12 2012, 06:59 PM


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To quote one of my brother's friends:

"it's too bad that sandwich making has become a symbol of sexual domination. it's a nice way to show you care about someone of any gender."
 
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Zularim
Posted: Jun 12 2012, 07:15 PM


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"Why? Do you think that things simply CAN'T change, or do you think that it's discussion that can't change things? If you don't think discussion will change anything, what do you think will?"


I think things simply won't change because the people that are the target audience for the big games just plain don't give a shit. Does the average CoD customer give two shits about the spread of stereotypes for either gender?

These are multi-million dollar corporations, and their pursuit is cash. The games where these stereotypes are most frequent are also the ones that are selling the best. From their perspective it's a matter of "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

Ignoring bullies only goes so far. You can't just close your eyes and pretend that these things aren't happening, or they'll just keep happening. You also can't fight back against it if you don't even know it's happening. And I don't think it's fair to expect individuals, one at a time, to try and handle the troll legions of the internet on their own, in silence, without complaining. Furthermore, if no one mentions that it's happening to them, other people who are experiencing the same thing might think that they're alone, or it's just them, and not realize how ingrained this crap has become as a part of internet culture. These are some of the reasons I wanted to share this with everyone here, because this shit happens, and people should know that it happens, and that it's not a small thing.

See, even one simple action like blacking out the username on the screenshots from youtube would make it not a billboard. Like, honestly, if she were to openly mock them that would be hilarious. I also read some of the youtube comments she is quoting as "Trolling" or "Flaming." Some of them are actually presenting a halfway decent counterargument and she's making it seem like it's not by putting it on the same page as the assholes that are calling her things that actually ARE sexist.

She's pointing out that she's being harassed, how is that dividing the gaming community? The fact is, some gamers are misogynist and some aren't, but those "camps" can apply to any group of people, and I don't remember her making this distinction anywhere (let me know if I overlooked it somewhere). Either way, how is speaking out against misogynist gamers worse than mysogynist gamers speaking out against women voicing their opinions? Why is being inclusive of mysogynist gamers important?

Yeah, that's where a segue should have been. I meant that the actual verbage used in the kickstarter video as well as the proposed idea is what is causing the divide, not her response to a bunch of assholes. Phrasing it as "Tropes VS Women in Video Games" and shit like that draws on a lot of negative connotation that isn't even necessary. It's using the same sort of sensationalism that mass media does to try and drive stupid agendas.

It's verbage like that which scares off men who aren't huge douches from even participating in the discussion. Like, I had half a mind just not to reply to this thread for fear of being misunderstood and ending up on the "Oh shit Zul's a misogynist" side of things. The amount of charged language in her stuff just makes me not want to deal with it at all.

That would be interesting, but what she's doing is also plenty interesting on its own. There are a million interesting topics about video games she could investigate, but this is what she decided she wanted to do. Also, I don't see what this has to do about her dividing misogynist and non-misogynist gamers.
My point about this is that the way she's going about it makes it seem like it's exclusive to females, when it just plain isn't. I can actually think of more female characters with some actual depth in big budget games off the top of my head than I can for male characters.

And just looking at the characters she used for her initial slide makes me frustrated. Like, she includes Cortana (Halo) and Anya (Gears of War).

Cortana has more depth of character in her left pinky than Master Chief does in his entire bio. So either she doesn't know Halo, or she's getting caught up on the physical avatar. Which I will admit, is made to be on the sexy side of things. But come on, a Six foot Seven inches, 287 pound space marine that's able to lift a fucking car isn't just as an unrealistic portrayal of a man as cortana's avatar is of a woman? Furthermore there are female spartans in the extended universe (hell, even in Halo: Reach) that are complete armored badasses.

Anya is one of those characters who initially isn't playable and eventually does for a specific reason. In Gears 1 and 2 she was more of logistics but in Gears 3 the whole tone is different. They're literally down to every last man and woman for combat troops. All troops are combat troops. They're living on fucking aircraft carriers that are barely even floating. It's not like she's some stereotypical big breasted blonde bimbo charging around with a chainsaw shouting cute catch phrases (Read: Lollipop chainsaw. Unless I'm wrong, but that's the impression I got from the game).

These two make me think either one of two things are happening in her thinking:

Either A) She isn't actually a hardcore gamer and is trying to critique something that she doesn't really understand fully and hasn't spent enough time looking at the individual universes or B ) There's just no winning. On one hand she's being critical of the stereotypical damsel in distress (Read: Princess Peach) and also lambasting the women in video games who are actually hardcore badasses that are going and doing what needs to be done. It makes me wonder, "What the fuck does she actually want women to be portrayed as and is there no winning in this shit?"

I could post more, but I won't for now. Because I actually want to play video games not just talk about them.

This post has been edited by Zularim on Jun 12 2012, 07:19 PM

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Abotu
Posted: Jun 12 2012, 08:29 PM


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I spent some time checking out that kickstarter page. She pointed out in one of her posts there that this video series hasn't even been made yet and people are already criticizing it. I think that's the main thing to keep in mind here, especially before you get mad at her choice of characters. Maybe not every character is as bad as the giggling kickboxing bimbos in Dead or Alive, but that doesn't mean she can't voice specific concerns about them. Feminist theory can be complicated stuff; it's not always a cut and dried case of good character / bad character. Give the lady a chance to share her thoughts before deciding she's wrong or unqualified. It looks to me like she's trying to research this topic very thoroughly.
 
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Khatja
Posted: Jun 12 2012, 10:05 PM


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QUOTE
I think things simply won't change because the people that are the target audience for the big games just plain don't give a shit. Does the average CoD customer give two shits about the spread of stereotypes for either gender?

What makes you think she's attempting to address the people least likely to listen to her? There are plenty of people who just haven't thought about these things, or haven't thought about them much, who could benefit from these kinds of discussions. And yeah, some of those people actually are CoD players.

QUOTE
From their perspective it's a matter of "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

Exactly, which is why it's so important to bring up the topics we feel should be addressed and explain to others why we think game developers could do better. They aren't going to change what they're doing unless we give them a reason to change.

QUOTE
I also read some of the youtube comments she is quoting as "Trolling" or "Flaming. Some of them are actually presenting a halfway decent counterargument and she's making it seem like it's not by putting it on the same page as the assholes that are calling her things that actually ARE sexist.

She posted an unedited screenshot. One of her comments is also in that screenshot, and I don't think that she's trying to make it seem like she herself is not making a decent statement. Also, keep in mind that there's a difference between disagreeing with someone, and stating that they're wrong and you're right, without allowing any room for discussion, and I would consider the latter "trolling", personally. For example, from that screenshot:

"While I'm interested in seeing the video, I don't see why you need $6,000 to make it. But they've already donated almost $24,000, so I won't worry about it."

vs

"Who the fuck needs 6K to make review videos? Why are you so special?"

Both are touching upon the same subject, which is one that's fine to discuss, but the second one is obviously by someone who's intending to insult, and not to ask a genuine question, or even to simply state an opinion, as the first does.

QUOTE
the actual verbage used in the kickstarter video as well as the proposed idea is what is causing the divide

I don't see this, can you give some examples other than the title? Also, I'm not sure what's so sensationalist about the title, it's not like it's Games vs Women or something like that. The videos are about the tropes used to represent women in video games. I saw the "vs" as a catchy shorthand that, yeah, might have implied that the tropes were negative, but, well, I think that's part of the point of the whole thing, so I don't see what the problem is in including that in the title if that's what you're going to be discussing anyway. Of course, if you think that the idea itself is bad, then I can see why you might not agree. I'd be interested in seeing what language she's using that you think is divisive, though.

QUOTE
It's verbage like that which scares off men who aren't huge douches from even participating in the discussion. Like, I had half a mind just not to reply to this thread for fear of being misunderstood and ending up on the "Oh shit Zul's a misogynist" side of things.

There are plenty of men participating in the discussion who don't seem to be turned off by whatever verbage it is that seems to be bothering you. Also, if you're afraid that someone here on the BMT forums is going to jump out and start calling you a misogynist for no reason, you might want to pause for a moment and ask yourself why that is.

QUOTE
My point about this is that the way she's going about it makes it seem like it's exclusive to females, when it just plain isn't.

Where does she say that it is exclusive to females? Why does choosing to focus on one problem area of video games mean that there can't be any other problems? She also isn't doing videos on racism or homophobia in video games, but that doesn't mean that those topics aren't equally worth discussing. Talking about stereotypes of women doesn't negate the fact that there are also stereotypes about men.

For the rest, I think Abotu's post covers it. I do want to add, though, that it's not about winning, it's about discussion, thought and the exploration of ideas and culture as they are expressed through media.
 
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Manashnee
Posted: Mar 26 2013, 02:59 AM


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Videos!
First video
I also like her videos about Legos, I loved playing with Gog's Legos when I was little.
 
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Khatja
Posted: May 29 2013, 08:57 PM


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The second video is now up! She's split the first topic, Damsels in Distress, into three parts. The first part, which Mana linked, talked mostly about the history of the Damsels in Distress trope, while this one goes into how the trope has evolved in more recent games.
 
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Sokra
Posted: Jun 11 2013, 12:24 PM


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http://femfreq.tumblr.com/post/52673540142...-in-video-games

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Manashnee
Posted: Jun 11 2013, 04:47 PM


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Reading this was really hard.
 
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Zigra
Posted: Jun 11 2013, 06:00 PM


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QUOTE (Manashnee @ Jun 11 2013, 04:47 PM)
Reading this was really hard.

for me too...to be both intellectually honest and gender equal.

Zigra,
did find her videos well done.

This post has been edited by Zigra on Aug 5 2013, 10:41 AM

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The no-longer expanding hive mind of Zigra, Oxo, Qil, Vil, Nooq, Huttu, Ezzo, Zhunk, Gymbo, Tinhorn, and Ubodu. Memories and lessons learned.
 
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