Image shows about a dozen female characters from videogames. Both new and old games, and major and minor characters are shown. The image is titled, Tropes vs Women: Video Games

 
I think it was about a year ago when a wild friend appeared on my facebook and shared with me the first of many of Anita Sarkeesian’s videos that I would watch. The video explained the “Bechdel Test”, which is simple test to see how women are included in storytelling. It was an opportune time in my life to watch the video because I was trying to understand feminism, a philosophy that I honestly had trouble getting behind. And yeah, I’m a woman (doesn’t that auto-include me for understanding women’s roles? No, it does not), but back then, I just thought feminism was about how other people personally interacted with women, and if they intended to be dominant over my gender or not. This bar was set to an impossible definition so that in truth, I would never have thought I had encountered “sexism” as I had defined it back then; I thought women who were feminists were just mad for no logical reason.
 

 
No one talks to themselves in their head like, “I think women are annoying and men are better leaders”, but in retrospect it’s exactly the kind of ideas I thought. Watching Sarkeesian’s video about how our society frames women was around the same time I began reading articles about the institution of sexism–a perspective that I was still wrapping my worldview around. I spent a lot of time asking questions and reading about the reasons behind feminist complaints within this new perspective. I asked “What’s the meaning of ‘institutional sexism,'” and “Exactly how much of “human nature’ is actually just arbitrary social construction?” I learned so much that my views were completely changed. Before that, I had some of the common, default software programmed by the culture I was raised in. That doesn’t make it evil, but every culture has it’s own hardwiring.
 
Some stuff I used to believe (and I bet some of you reading this believe too):
 
1. You’re a ladyperson and you avoid spending time with women because you think they’re “bitchy”, and that guys are “simpler” or “more laid back”
 
2. You are any gender and you think feminism is in truth about a group of women who want to control men, and subdue them.
 
3. Feminism was important before when women couldn’t own property, vote, or obtain jobs, but today it’s not important and some women can’t stop pushing (probably because they’re combative individuals).
 
4. Speaking of combative individuals, feminists just don’t know how to lighten up and laugh at themselves. They think they are above jokes and expect the world to bend to their rigid, unrealistic ideals. Probably because they have psychological needs to control others.
 
5. A lot of these feminists hate men. They likely have personal or psychological reasons for their complaints instead of rational ones.
 
6. Women and men just are different. An example is a woman’s hormones cause her to be emotionally volatile, stubborn, and weaker than men (not just physically, but they are not strong and capable leaders like men are). Women are naturally drawn to support roles and caretaking because of their hormones and probably evolution that makes their nature being a mother.
 
7. Women are arguably more powerful than men, because of their sexiness. Women often outright use their sex to make men their slaves, and that’s just sad. Even when women aren’t malicious their power of the gates of sex puts them in the best position to make demands. Bonus points if you’ve read Lysistrata, because plays are cool, okay?
 
8. Men work harder than women, because women can just get married or date a man and live off of his income and spend his money with impunity. Men simply cannot do that. This is further proof that women already have the most power so feminists are totally out of line.
 
I have busted every single one of those through hard work, research, learning, feeling dumb, and asking questions. Maybe I should do a series on it.
 
If you want to discard prejudices and become free to think on your own, learn what’s wrong with these viewpoints. It’s not my female hormones that changed my mind, instead it was changed by rational, logical, reasonable thinking and evaluation of truth. A great start is watching videos and reading articles that break down some of the invisible walls put up by our social norms. Make it a priority to be a person who understands things before you make judgments about them and then you’re going to be a person who doesn’t just react to stimulus, but instead a person who is thoughtful of the world they live in. If you’re reading this you’re probably a gamer so just think of this as leveling up another skill tree.
 

 
If you’re already on top of ending sexism with the powers of your own understanding you’ll be very interested in this Kickstarter project by Anita Sarkeesian. I think it’s interesting to see her branch out into more game-related material, especially since the penalty for speaking critically about games while being female is so high. Right now, it’s way too easy to think in prejudice (faster too!), and the dominant view supports it. Even though she hasn’t done a single minute of her project yet, there is no shortage of hate and emphatic requests for Anita’s silence (Trigger Warning: for absolutely everything). I bet absolutely none of you are surprised to learn about the backlash she’s already receiving. If men and women truly have the same status in the world, this kind of reaction wouldn’t be so normal, and it would cost people way more face for acting in this way.
 
I for one am super looking forward to watching these videos when they’re out. This Kickstarter is already a phenomenal success at the time of this writing (with an entire week left), with the pledges reaching almost 600% of the project’s goal and then a full six additional stretch goals. I’m hopeful that you’ll see why I’m so glad this is happening, and I am personally happy to continue this discussion further, especially if there are parts that don’t make sense, and uncomfortable questions you’d like to ask me. I know a lot of people say this but I am not out to jump on someone for “being a sexist” because that’s unproductive and mean. Instead, I like to communicate with you guys, so please ask without fear of punishment or reprisal. (That said, abuse is just unacceptable, and you can ask your questions without calling me/women stereotypical or predictable names.)

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2 Responses to “Kickstarter: Tropes vs. Women in Video Games”

  1. Jordan Says:

    I think the saddest thing is that for some reason, if a guy were to post a video about guys no one would care. The guy probably wouldn’t get the funding due to less controversy… but no one would see it as a challenge.

    When a woman does it everyone on the internet sees it as a challenge. Why can’t a woman post about the problems with gender stereotypes the same way a man could without everyone seeing her as trying to destroy video games?

    [Reply]

  2. Tiffany Martin Says:

    Jordan,

    Women making complaints about games is met with more problems because women are treated as outsiders to most people in the community of gamers. Either welcomed or unwelcomed outsiders. Either way, if they’re criticizing games, it’s like a stranger coming into your house and complaining about the decor.

    I think if people understand some of the fictional thinking about women they won’t see us as outsiders, and then this won’t be an issue. The community is definitely starting to see that and I definitely think that it is evolving.

    [Reply]

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Posted by Cake-Pie
Dated: 8th June 2012
Filled Under: Games, Kickstarters