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I’m guessing that most of you who follow this blog are probably aware of Anita Sarkeesian (from Feminist Frequency) and her plan to release a series of videos about Tropes vs Women in Video Games. She had decided to raise some money at Kickstarter to use towards research for her series.
The positive side of the fundraiser is that she managed to raise over 20 times the amount as needed for her goal. The negative side, though, is all the backlash that she had received - both at YouTube and Wikipedia. When I read some of these distasteful comments at YouTube, I felt sick to my stomach. People were calling her just about every name in the book - as well as wishing violence (and even death) on her. All because Anita dared to speak out on an issue that she really cares about.
Now, amidst all the name-calling and death threat was a common refrain that especially grated on her. These people were telling her that she shouldn’t even bother to play video games, if she doesn’t like the way women are portrayed in them.
Now, even though I myself am not a gamer, I’m in a situation that is a bit similar to hers. I happen to really like hard rock and heavy metal, which also tends to be male dominated. Now, I refuse to stop listening to hard rock - because it’s a style of music that I really, really happen to enjoy. However, I do get irritated with how there aren’t more women in rock/metal. I also feel uneasy with the way some rock/metal songs are sexist or misogynistic. And then there’s the fact that hard rock radio stations tend to care strictly about their male listeners. It’s like, would they even care if I stopped listening to their station? I imagine that Anita has pretty much the same issues, when it comes to video games.
I see a bit of a chicken and egg scenario here. Are there fewer female gamers because video games are marketed towards men, or are video games marketed towards men because there are fewer female gamers? Actually, the same question could be asked about any gender-based marketing. While probably very few women consciously think “I’m a woman, therefore I shouldn’t like video games” - women tend to be conditioned into thinking video games are not for them, and that they should have other interests.
Now, I’m not saying that we have to have exactly as many women playing video games as there are men who play video games - and I don’t think any of us think that, really. All we’re really asking is that they stop marketing video games to only one gender, and the same also applies to rock metal. I really think a lot needs to be fixed in the way of marketing.
The bottom line is, though, telling Anita to “just not play video games” is completely missing the point. Why should she have to stop playing video games, just because she’s a woman?
Wonderfully written. All my support goes to Anita and her project.