Sunday, July 8, 2012

Another Reason Feminism is Still Necessary [TRIGGER]

How many times have you heard any of the following:

    Is there really any need for feminism today?
    Aren't men and women equal now?
    Aren't we living in a post-feminist society?
There are so many reasons that the feminist movement is still needed today, like the gender wage gap, sexual objectification, and maternity rights, to name a few of the big ones. It still all comes down to how women and men are treated differently because of their sex organs, and there really are so many ways in which women are treated with hatred. Granted, there are some who call themselves feminists who hate men. This is not real feminism, and it is wrong. At its heart the feminist movement is about equal respect, inclusion, and love for everyone, despite sex, sexual orientation, gender identification, race, ethnicity, or social position.

Sorry about the soap box. I get really worked up when I see things like this:

This is Anita Sarkeesian, creator of Feminist Frequency. She is a media critic that offers fantastic reviews about television and movies that expose harmful tropes. You may remember her from an earlier post about the Bechdel Test.

In mid-May, Sarkeesian announced that she was fundraising on Kickstarter for a project called "Tropes vs. Women in Video Games."Her original goal was $6000. She described her project, writing the following:
I love playing video games but I’m regularly disappointed in the limited and limiting ways women are represented.  This video project will explore, analyze and deconstruct some of the most common tropes and stereotypes of female characters in games.  The series will highlight the larger recurring patterns and conventions used within the gaming industry rather than just focusing on the worst offenders.
Within 24 hours, Sarkeesian met her goal. When the fundraising closed on June 27th, 2012, Kickstarter reports a total of 6,968 backers with $158,922 raised. This in itself is pretty astounding; clearly there was a very positive response to what she is trying to do, and many people saw value in it. However, she also received a very strong negative response from some of the gaming community.

She started to receive death threats, ugly emails, and all sorts of horrific responses. Her Wikipedia page was bombarded with hateful messages and pornographic images (it has since been locked). Sources report that her phone number and address were made public to certain hate sites online. This article on New Statesman has a complete list of the harassment and bullying if you want to read the full extent of it.

Ben Spurr, a Canadian, created a video game called "Beat Up Anita Sarkeesian." Why? In his own words:
Anita Sarkeesian has not only scammed thousands of people out of over $160,000, but also uses the excuse that she is a woman to get away with whatever she damn well pleases. Any form of constructive criticism, even from fellow women, is either ignored or labelled to be sexist against her.
She claims to want gender equality in video games, but in reality, she just wants to use the fact that she was born with a vagina to get free money and sympathy from everyone who crosses her path.
Sarkeesian also received horrific comments on her youtube channel, particularly on her initial video introducing the "Tropes vs. Women in Video Games" project. It looks like (as of today) many of the death threats and most hateful things have been removed, but here are some examples of what I found looking through this evening:
Sexism isnt a problem for the gamers, it's a bonus addition, And we want that [sic]

Feminists are hypocrits.... they complain about bout this when there are sluts and hoes everywhere... lol that simple fact makes feminists a joke [sic]

Don't add well-rounded female leads and NPCs! That would destroy the games! It would be as bad as adding black kids to white schools in the 60s was!

Her throat  I want to slit it [sic]

It's anti-man in the sense that... we are the domimant power and the Feminism movement is wanting women to be on the same level men are...[sic]
There are over 14,000 comments responding to her video, many of them angry, some attacking women as a whole, some just attacking feminism.

And you have to ask, Why was there this crazy response? I understand that some may feel that there are more important projects for a young feminist researcher to be exploring, but it's a legitimate project that will take time, equipment, and funds. People donated by choice. Sarkeesian very clearly outlined her projects, and stated what additional funds would go towards if her initial goal of $6000 was met.

The hateful responses make it that much more evident that feminism is not dead or unnecessary, as many of the responses claimed. Sarkeesian has been harassed and threatened because she wants to look at stereotypes of women in video games. Many of the responses glorify violence against women, rape, and the idea that all women are "whores." Because they have vaginas.

And really, the responses are crazy. Crazy, disheartening, and genuinely disturbing in their ignorance of why violence against women is a problem, in why women want to be more than wallpaper when they're represented in pop culture, and why feminism may not be such a crazy idea after all. The responses in and of themselves prove that there is still hatred against women. And not just hatred, but disgust for a woman even wanting to critique pop culture.

And some people want to say that feminism is unnecessary. I don't think so.

[As a side note, Anita Sarkeesian has been incredibly brave throughout this whole process. I loved this cartoon by catiemonstrosity:

Way to go, Anita! It takes a lot of courage to fight back!]