Last semester, some of the men in my class pushed back at Anita Sarkeesian’s application of the Bechdel to the 2012 Oscars. I can only imagine what they might say about this latest venture of hers.
Whereas some had heralded “cyberspace” as a “great leveler,” it appears to replicate the prevailing inequalities of RL (real life) or “meatspace.” Gaming is no exception to this rule, at least as far as gender inequality is concerned. The images in this post are particularly indicative of the problem, and perhaps more so. Here reality is augmented to the extent that male gamers take liberties they might not otherwise FTF (face-to-face). Is online game space being claimed as male? Should women cede that space because it’s “not real” and therefore “doesn’t matter?” I think that discussion of this belongs in this blog because of the online dimension seems to exacerbate the preexisting social condition. What do you make of all this? (Note that the image above is one of the more tame. More importantly, note the trigger warning below.)
[Note: Trigger warning for sexist, demeaning language and violent imagery.]
If you’re a regular reader of Soc Images, chances are pretty good that you also know about Anita Sarkeesian’s project to look at sexism in video games. Sarkeesian, who runs the fantastic Feminist Frequency site, attracted a large amount of hateful online attacks and harassment after starting a Kickstarter campaign to raise a few thousand dollars for a project looking at sexism in video games. If you aren’t aware of the story, check out any of the many media stories about her experience.
Sarkeesian’s project looks at stereotypes or sexist imagery in the design of the games themselves. My coworker Darren D. let me know about a website that highlights another element of sexism in the gaming community: the demeaning or threatening sexist comments gamers often send to other players, especially those they believe are women. Fat, Ugly or Slutty collects examples of the sexual harassment and sexist attacks that are an unfortunately common part of female gamers’ lives.
Many of the comments sexualize and objectify the women by suggesting they should be sexually available to other players or open to comments on their appearance:
In my own opinion, as far as Sarkeesian is concerned, fellas (or should I say “boys,” because you’re certainly not acting like men), don’t shoot the messenger. Either you’re proud of the behavior and should be able to defend it (intellectually), or you should be seeking to change it where you see it.