What Responses To Non-Violent Politics Looks Like
Years ago, a family gave my siblings and I one of the Tomb Raider video games for the original PlayStation consoles. After a discussion, she decided against letting us keep it. Why? Because of the way it portrayed women. Disappointed as I was back then, and not knowing any better, I think she was right for taking it away. It was only when I got to college, did I realize that many videogames had a misogynist worldview. As a first-semester freshman, neighboring dormmates would use the language of rape, shouting it from the top of their lungs while playing PlayStation in the community room, and it was atrocious.
Last week, several male members of the gaming community decided it would be funny to start attacking women for their stances against sexism in video games.
If you recall, about a year ago, I re-posted a vlog from YouTube on Science Fiction Pregnancy And Colonizing Women’s Bodies by Anita Saarkesian of Feminist Frequency. Since then, she has added a number of videos to critically engage culture, especially as it pertains to harming women and racial minorities. After having started a campaign on Kickstarter.com to support a video series on Video Game Tropes Against Women, a group of misogynist trolls went literally on the offensive with their own “campaign,” making sexually suggestive games and pictures to torment Saarkesian. After reading the articles and stories, it was intolerable. Also last week, a random no-name blogger took it upon himself to personally attack WHEDONY actress Felicia Day (The Guild):
He claims he was drunk at that time, he didn’t know who Felicia Day was, and issued an apology, but the damage was already done. Curiously, there weren’t any misspellings or shortening of words, so one has to wonder if the “I was drunk” alibi was even true to begin with, and Mr. Perez just wanted attention from the RTs. Of course, Perez’s bosses at Destructoid immediately apologized, as many in the gaming and geek community came to Day’s defense.
I feel like apologies and “ending of professional relationships” with writers really isn’t enough. These aren’t rare occurrences and will happen again. Saarkesian’s kickstarter was funded by and away more than what was requested, but perhaps its time to put money into research from videogaming companies themselves into non-violent and fun alternatives. Hey, whatever happened to Sonic the Hedgehog and Aero the Acrobat?
It’s like Saarkesian has argued, that at their best, videogames can help with conceptual thinking and physics; perhaps its time for all communities whether they are religious or gaming, to start listening to voices from the margins, to practice non-violent politics.