Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Not bookish but important

Last week Alice posted about Cinderella Ate My Daughter and included a video of Anita Sarkeesian of the Feminist Frequency talking about Legos and Gender. Not sure why exactly but then I decided to watch ALL THE VIDEOS Sarkeesian made, or at least the ones posted on her site. And if you go to her site (or Google her name or follow the links I keep retweeting) you'll see there was some battle going on.

Some background if you don't already know:
Sarkeesian made a series of videos called Tropes vs. Women that are pretty sweet and look at certain tropes liked The Straw Feminist and The Mystical Pregnancy. Since those were pretty awesome, she decided to make a series that focused on Tropes vs. Women in Video Games. Normally she asks for donations to help pay for the research, production and general site upkeep but this time she decided to try Kickstarter to raise money. She was hoping to raise $6,000. And she reached that goal within 24 hours. And then the happy feelings ended. In her Kickstarter video she talks about wanting to look at different stereotypes in video games around female characters. She didn't say what those opinions were, just that sometime, in the future, she would like to voice an opinion about them. And a group of people flipped right the fuck out at this idea.

She has received comments ranging from basic "get back in the kitchen" jokes to death threats, rape threats and all manner of hate. For having the audacity to suggest at some point she would like to talk about women in video games. Her Wikipedia page is still locked because of vandalism. The group keeps flagging her YouTube videos as "terrorism". And Sarkeesian responded in the best possible way.

First of all, I want to reiterate that she was hoping to raise $6,000 and wasn't sure she could get that. The Kickstarter campaign closed today and she raised $158,917. I know she didn't do that so much as her 6,967 backers did but that is still awesome and needs to be pointed out. She's now expanded the scope of her project from 5 videos to 12.
But even better than that is Sarkeesian's reaction. First of all, she didn't back down. She didn't let the hate silence her, which was ultimately the group's goal. She didn't (from what I can see anyway) attack the people back. She responded to a couple comments but she didn't attack. What she did do was document the hate. She wrote a few posts about the harassment and they're up on her site. She has screencaps of the YouTube comments and her Wikipedia page. It's easy to dismiss awful comments (especially those on YouTube) as par for the course online, as a number of news sites point out. But it's another thing to actually read those comments. And by sharing those comments, she brings to light how bad it can be.

Not only did she not back down, but the whole incident has been brought to the attention of several publications including Slate, Guardian, Globe and Mail, Wired, and Forbes. A number of blogs have written about her story as well. Because she didn't stay silent. Because she didn't delete the comments and take down the campaign.

So this isn't a post about books. I realize I'm not even adding to the conversation by posting this. But I've been reading pretty much every story about this and A) I wanted to share the story and B) I wanted to say how amazing Sarkeesian is for not backing down. I can't wait to see the videos.

Updated: to include a link to a story my friend Paolo posted in the comments. It's not about this case but another instance of PR people (for shame!) assuming boobs=does not like video games
I Can Be Just As Capable. Let Me Be