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Gamers Who Threatened Feminist Critic Accidentally Help Her Raise $158,000

Gamers Who Threatened Feminist Critic Accidentally Help Her Raise $158,000

It all started with a proposal on Kickstarter.

Feminist media critic Anita Sarkeesian asked for $6,000 to help fund a video series about the way women are portrayed in video games. Sarkeesian was open that her hope was to spur the development of “more interesting, engaging and complex female characters, that avoid the standard boring cliches.”

Now, it’s probably not news to anyone that there are some fairly negative tropes in the gaming portrayal of women. Female characters tend to be designed with an eye on their physical attributes first. Female characters in video games are there for their sex appeal, because there still is a core belief in the gaming community that all gamers are 14-year-old boys. Sarkeesian was investigating a phenomenon as familiar as gravity.

Unfortunately, a number of male gamers didn’t take kindly to the suggestion that there was a possibility that their games might be anti-women, and so they responded to Sarkeesian with an unrelenting stream of vitriol and hate, including online vandalism of her Wikipedia page. Quotes such as “tits or get back in the kitchen, bitch” were posted to her YouTube channel. Clearly, there was no misogyny in the gaming community for her to investigate.

At any rate, thanks to the hatred directed at her, Sarkeesian ended up raising her $6,000, plus an additional $152,000. Her treatment was horrific, but at least the vile, women-hating jerks who attacked her would be chastened by the clear public support for her.

I know, that is funny; the gaming community did not go gentle into that good night. Instead, they doubled down on violent rhetoric and misogynistic threats, culminating in an online game (with disturbing graphics) in which you can beat up Sarkeesian.

The game was pulled from Newgrounds.com, but not until its creator, Sioux St. Marie, Ontario native Ben Spurr, had managed to sicken nearly everyone.

Spurr claimed, naturally, that he did not mean to intimate that violence against women was okay. In his now-suspended Twitter feed, Spurr said”The game isn’t about ‘punching women.’ It’s about punching a selfish person. There’s a difference.”

Spurr said he put together the attack game because Sarkeesian “is not putting in the effort and research she said she would.” He added, “Many of her tropes have been debuncted [sic].” Spurr said he was only trying to elicit “a direct response from Sarkeesian.”

Of course, Sarkeesian has not even started her video series yet, so it’s not clear what on earth Spurr was referring to.  Then again, it really doesn’t matter. Since Spurr wasn’t reacting to any specific trope referenced by Sarkeesian, what he was rejecting, violently, was the very idea that women’s portrayal in gaming could be anything other than perfect.

What Starr and his ilk prove, of course, is exactly the opposite of what they scream and threaten: misogyny is a huge problem, both in gaming and in the larger society. When your response to a question is to scream, pout, and threaten your questioner, you’ve lost the argument. The question is not whether misogyny is running rampant in gaming. The question is what game creators will do to stop it.

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Image Credit: David Futrelle

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51 comments

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5:08PM PDT on Mar 15, 2013

noted

8:13AM PST on Dec 20, 2012

Thank you for sharing.

11:24PM PDT on Sep 25, 2012

Ya, I'm going to give my 2 cents. I swear this world is going to shit. Do we really have to bring about an issue about gaming where I am pretty sure was created mainly by guys. Gamers don't want a modest, house-wife looking character in the game. They want someone who is exciting to look at, and with the male human nature, frankly they are attracted to hot females. Why make a problem out of it? It's a fantasy world, relax, step back and stop being these over-offended people making problems out of nothing. You want a non-objectifying video game? Good luck selling and making it because I doubt you skeptical women (not general, but those who agree with this) will go out and make a video game like that. Stop intruding and being nuisances. Go outside, get some sun, smoke some weed (like really do it, the world would be better off if this plant was legal) and relax because life is too short to be complaining about shit like this. Let gamers do their own thing and you go do yours. On another note, I've played video games with fat women, skinny women, short and tall and even ugly women, some scientists, some drug dealers. So get off your high horse everyone and worry about growing some vegetables in your garden or something. Lay off all those who slightly piss you off.

4:23AM PDT on Jul 12, 2012

The portrail of sexy men and women in games and in comic books has been around since their beginnings. Most of my gaming female comrades have left their games because they're sick of being harassed by the little boys that play the games. I guess that if more and more women get too sick of the boys real life behavior, that only leaves little boys to play with themselves...

1:40AM PDT on Jul 12, 2012

Just what I like, a nice action-packed tale with a happy ending.

11:51PM PDT on Jul 11, 2012

noted

7:40PM PDT on Jul 11, 2012

wasn't gonna add my 2 cents but gotta say Dawn W. hit the nail on the head: these kinds of males don't have woman friends or girlfriends. They usually only have each other, and that ain't much.

4:30PM PDT on Jul 11, 2012

Glad she made the $6,000 plus a whole lot more!

4:02PM PDT on Jul 11, 2012

Good on her, and that kid is an ass. I get this crap daily. I'm a female gamer, everything from MMO to FPS, and it's REALLY bad in the FPS community. I play Team Fortress 2 on a daily basis, a game where I MUST be a male character (thanks for that obvious sexism, Valve), and the players can be pretty crappy. It's by and large 13-24 year old males that play, and their mentality is a lot like Ben. If I do badly, it's because I'm a girl. If I do well, I MUST be hacking because ALL girls suck at gaming. Common things that happen: "get back in the kitchen", "show me your tits or gtfo", and the guys who try and send me a slew of items in the hopes of winning me over enough to see my tits or get some cyber. It's pathetic, but it's funny.

2:48PM PDT on Jul 11, 2012

If anyone really feels that objectifying women in video games is okay, think about that the next time you hear of someone being sexually assaulted because they dared to speak while being female.

Objectifying humans is NEVER right, Ever.

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Colleen H. Colleen H. is an Online Campaigner with Care2 and a recent transplant to San Francisco from the East... more
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