You know the old line, “Give a fool enough rope and he’ll hang himself”? Well, women all over who have suffered harassment for speaking up against sexism in their world have no doubt wished such would happen to their offenders and enablers.
Enjoy women gamers, your day has come. As this story tells here and here, a young feminist, Anita Sarkeesian has stepped on the mysoginist trip line by announcing her intention to produce a few videos exploring sexist themes and imaging in the video gaming world. Once she stepped on that invisible, but well known trip line (the one where women who mention sexism are immediately set upon by deniers and haters), the wolves came out of their dens and began a feeding frenzy.
As anyone can see by the numerous pages and write-ups on the internet and those posted here, Anita refused to back down and in fact thanks to her harassers, was able to top her funding goals a few times over. How do you feel now haters?
As Amanda Marcotte so eloquently states in Slate:
Sarkeesian’s story is a doozy, by the way. She started a Kickstarter page to raise money to make a documentary about the tropes used by video game designers to portray female characters. She hadn’t expressed an opinion about video games yet, but simply by stating that she would at some point in the future do so, she had to endure an absolute avalanche of misogynist abuse from men who hoped they could silence her before her too-scary-to-be-heard opinion could be voiced. Every access point they could exploit was used to try to get to her, especially her YouTube page. Her Wikipedia page was repeatedly vandalized with lies, links out to porn sites, and pornographic pictures.* Eventually, Wikipedia shut it down. Unfortunately for the misogynists, this sort of thing generated a lot of sympathy for Sarkeesian, and she was able to fundraise well beyond her original goals. Like, more than $90,000 beyond what she originally wanted to raise.
Sarkeesian was successful because the arrogant holders of the gates of mysoginy opened up their dungeon of horrors and let ‘er rip. Every woman whose been alive more than a few years knows the hatred and sting of mysoginy.
In the real world its subtle because like racists, they know their speech raises eyebrows among those who wish to remain respectable. But this is just another portion of the War on Women. Its as if the dogs have finally broken down the fences and have gone on a frenzied war-path to take the neighborhood back to the pack. Since Ronald Reagan led the country in mocking feminists and using welfare as the new Slut Shaming, while seated in the highest position in the land, a battle has brewed between those who wish us to move forward as a people and the trolls who hold the keys to the bridge gates.
They’ve stamped their feet, crying out for twenty or more years about “Feminazis” and the “PC Police” who want to take away all their fun. But the motivation of oppression has nothing to do with fun; its serious business. Its something its beneficiaries will defend to the bitter end, humanity be damned. Getting the entire country on their side with slick media campaigns that hide old sexist memes in flashy commercialized images of sexually available women and multi-media that still portrays women as the lesser player has worked wonders. Now we’ve got an entirely new generation of young soldiers ready to hold the guard and carry torch for their forefathers.
Talk to any young white male about sexism in any media, especially gaming and you’ll usually get a lot of dismissal and disregard for the idea that media degrades and minimizes women. Young men have learned the one most important lesson in upholding patriarchy; you as the male and only you, have the power and the privilege to decide what is real and what is not.
Any woman who owns a computer and goes online also knows full well the mysoginy present in the media they have to engage in and face everyday. Everyday millions of males support at least by their complicit silence, if not by their monetary support and outright glee, sexism and degradation. The rule has always been that if you as a woman engage with people on the internet, keep your guard up and be ready to leave if the speech gets too heavy or offensive. Its not your world, women learn early on, so just slink away, be quiet and blame yourself for not being strong enough to “handle it”.
This silent learned tolerance sneaks into every woman’s psyche, effectively causing her to doubt her validity, to doubt her talent, her ability to contribute, even her worthiness to be treated as a human being. She might pass up a promotion, laugh nervously and stay silent when her man belittles her in front of others or worse, she’ll just stay silent, in the background where its safe and where she remains captive.
Cheers to Anita for being bold and committed enough to undertake her Kickstart project. Kudos to all of those who donated to her cause and by that very act made the statement loud and clear that you will no longer stand idly by.
Raw Story posted a video of DJ Jay Smooth talking about the need for men to stand up to the internet misogynists. This is a good step, but more men need to speak up, not just on the internet but in the real world as well when their brothers get out of line. There’s no reason why women should fight this war alone.