Privilege and Entitlement
You may have probably heard about the misogynistic display of the gaming community on the work of Anita Sarkeesian, sparked from her project "Tropes vs Women: Video Games", a video series aiming for criticising harmful genre conventions and making the issue of sexist depiction of women in video games more visible. I've always enjoyed her videos, being accessible to people of various degrees of knowledge on gender matters, and encompassing so many angles that, in a few phrases, she summarises each of the problems that arise from uncritical popular culture. Certainly, the project she is going to embark on will be a useful addition to feminist discussion.
Despite her credentials as a successful vlogger and the apparently inocuous nature of her work, she has been receiving an inordinate amount of smears, attacks and threats all across the web, on all of the platforms she uses, in an attempt to silence her. Some people would say that that's the nature of youtube, that trolls abound, etc, but that should never be an argument to dismiss the gravity of this assault. She even compiled one hundred comments from her video to show the degree and amount of sexism that she has had to deal with. I wouldn't have believed it had I not read it. To think that these anonymous internet trolls are real people you might pass by in the streets is appalling.
That this behaviour is intolerable has been discussed multiple times in the past few weeks. Except for those inhuman enough to participate in the vilification of a fellow human being, everybody agrees that the attack is contemptible and unjustified. But some of the participants in the discussion (most of them males, I assume, for the content of their message and the "entitlement signals" they make) argue that Anita's project is worthless.
"There's a baby in Africa starving, because you chose to waste the money on the most jaw grinding display of sensationalism, I have ever seen. And you clearly have the loosest grasp of how to use sensationalism." (I love this argument. Whatever you say is unimportant since there are people with bigger problems than you. Let's go back to the cave and never discuss anything. Usually he who wields this argument doesn't care a bit about those starving kids himself.)
"mirror's edge. just sain. problem solved" (Thank you for giving us women one game that doesn't take part in sexism.)
"If you don't know who are bad female characters are in games, you have not played games. It is an issue, and everyone who is not misogynist knows it's an issue. But this idea is just a massive waste of money because the documentary is pointless - it's going to be, to use your words, some asshole making ridicule of obviously bad characters as an argument. This isn't going to sway anyone, this isn't going to inform anyone, this is just people pointing out obvious stuff that's been said 100s of times before." (Has it? Has anybody done something about it, since it's been discussed so much? Are we only allowed to criticised for a set amount of words, in case it would grow too big a complaint? As shown in the comments section, there isn't enough awareness of the issue, nor enough respect for women in the field of games.)
"Although asking for $6000 to discuss woman in videogames which others have already discussed by many people e.g. Extra Credits is a bit much." (Same as above.)
"I haven't watched a lot of this "feminist frequency", but from what I can gather it's another one of those that are overcalling "Sexism" if a woman dresses like a slut. Not that I believe that the view of women in games are top-notch, but these people (and oh, have I met them) seem to believe that horrible writing and power-fantasy = active discrimination based on your sex." (Sadly, people tend to think they can contribute to a discussion without knowing a thing about the subject, and they can't be bothered with reading up a bit before embarrassing themselves. Well, I'm going to break it to you, anonymous commenter, a power-fantasy in which a woman is objectified is discriminatory.)
Now take a look at these ones:
"I'd say it's more a problem with her one-sided approach that rails against video-game women conforming to stereotypes, while completely ignoring that video-game men conform to stereotypes just as much. And the fact that she's crowdsourcing videos, videos just like the one she made to advertise her solicitations, videos she'll make even more money on the ad revenue and traffic they'll generate." (She shouldn't make money from her work, how heinous! Women should be volunteering for nurses in the Great War.)
"If that is sexist then males are at risk too. All guys in video games are the super grizzled hero or the smart, weak, and fearful guy. Stereotyping is done to EVERYBODY not just women. It's not a big deal at all. Fucking grow up and deal with it."
This argument is one of the most insidious, and I would like to talk about this more extensively.
Apparently, many uneducated men are insecure about people who are not men/white/straight/whatever other privileged title they have, talking about their own concerns, which may or may not be related to them. They will always lead the discussion into the ambit that affects them, invalidating it when it doesn't. Even the most "good-hearted" men can be blamed on this, because it doesn't take a kind nature but a conscious, educated mind, to see that other people have experiences that differ from ours, and which are as valid as our own. Not only men, but since women are more conscious of oppression by having experienced it, they are more prone to empathize with the Other. But for the privileged, since the entire culture revolves around them (How many female heroes do we have in movies (not being sexualized)? Yes, that's a link to one of Anita's videos ;)), they believe they are at the centre, and the matters that do not affect them are useless to everybody. These are entitlement issues. The youtube comments and Escapist forums reek of them, and most people are not aware.
Actually, feminism does not only concern women, since many of the claims that feminists make affect men positively too. Except for those men who believe that they are the superior sex, of course. But I am talking about educated people (I am not entirely convinced of Socrates' theory that only the ignorant are iniquitous, because we see too many wicked but educated persons, but let's assume that Socrates was not wishful thinking there). If you are a man, and have at least one woman important to you (mother, sister, friend, whatever), you should wish that she received an equal and fair treatment, and not be deemed inferior. But not only the women around you would be happier if they were treated equally, but you would have more opportunities in fields that used to be restricted to women. Feminism also wants men to be able to child-rear on equal terms to women, for instance. And yet it is called feminism for a reason: since the male genre is the one that has the upper hand, feminism is mostly concerned with women's problems; problems which men seldom, or never, face (slut-shaming, age-shaming, objectification, discrimination at the workplace, rape, etc).
Some men are not comfortable with having feminism not be about them. They feel entitled to an equal degree of interest from feminists because "it's about equality, right?" It is, but certainly there would be no equality in talking about both men and women's issues in the same degree since women have it much worse, and although men face their particular problems, women's problems are more insidious and common, systematic and pervasive.
Regarding the discussion of male tropes (read this amazing piece by Doone on masculine power fantasies, please), the disparity between what concerns a woman and what concerns a man is made obvious. Whereas men are represented in a "good light" (the characters showcase an exemplary model for men to follow, although everybody should question the validity of said model), women are portrayed as objects to be obtained after a long quest (Mario rescuing Peach), as sexualised mannequins with one-dimensional personalities (so many examples and so few names that stick in our mind), or as strong but fragile heroines which need saving/directing from men (seriously, WTF).
We certainly need to call attention to these insidious tropes, since our culture is what constitutes our reading of society, unless we're critical enough about it. And even in that case, we are being unconsciously directed by what we have learnt without reflecting upon it. The discussion that Anita proposes can only be beneficial for the industry, seeing that so many people need educating on the subject. I cannot wait to frame further feminist topics with one of her videos.