Anita Sarkeesian Breaks Down Gamergate For Stephen Colbert

anita-sarkeesian

If there is a modern cultural event we can cite which exemplifies the reason feminism is still needed in a country like America, it is #Gamergate.

The hashtag that has so far gotten over 1 million tweets and ignited more than just the gaming community in conversation about the objectification of women in a traditionally male-dominated arena.

Anita Sarkeesian, who is a Youtuber, feminist, and expert on the representation of women in gaming world has become the unofficial spokesperson of gamergate and all the other women who are being targeted because of her willingness to speak out.

Just to quickly catch up those who haven’t been following this controversy, Anita is the author of the gaming blog Feminist Frequency, and in 2012 launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise $6000 for a Youtube series called ‘Tropes vs Women in Video Games’ where she examines the depiction of women in pop culture, and especially in the gaming world.

She attracted a lot of hate from people who accused her of trying to profit from her video series, but plenty of others supported what she was doing and she ended up raising $150,000 for the project. The attacks on Anita have intensified lately, the most horrific being the threat of a mass shooting at Utah University where she was slated to speak recently. The anonymous shooter who identified himself as as student said if she didn’t cancel her appearance he would carry out a massacre similar to that of the 1989 Montreal shooting where a crazed gunman shot and killed 14 women and claimed he was fighting feminism.

This current threat to Anita stated that feminists had ruined the gunman’s life, and sadly because of the Utah state laws the University couldn’t prevent anyone from carrying a concealed weapon, so Anita had to cancel her talk in light of her life and many others being threatened. The issue of gun laws and gun control is a whole other ball game, but folks here is one great example of why it needs to be reformed! Let’s not be ignorant or blind about this! When a woman’s safety is less important than that of an individual’s constitutional right to bear arms, it shows we need to update our laws a little, especially in light of the high number of mass shootings in the US over the last 3 decades.

But we digress…back to Anita!

Her series on gaming pointed out that the roles most often available to women — from princesses to be rescued to prostitutes to be murdered — are both sexist and unimaginative. If these roles were rethought, diversified and expanded, she argues, gaming’s creative class and audience would be diversified and expanded in turn, and games would become more enjoyable for all.

Anita-Sarkeesian

She wasn’t the only one targeted by online trolls who have exposed her personal details and threatened to rape and kill her. Female game developers like Zoë Quinn, Brianna Wu and Leigh Alexander have also been the subject of intense hate, which is a clear indication to many on the outside spectrum that there are men in the gaming world who feel threatened that the industry is no longer exclusively theirs.

Statistics show almost half of video game players today are women, so why shouldn’t women be catered to in the games they play and the characters they control, the same way men are? Just as an example Kim Kardashian’s video game ‘Kim Kardashian: Hollywood’ is currently one of the top 5 money-makers in the iphone app store, and top 10 in the Google play store. It is predicted the game will make a cool $200 million by the summer of 2015, which is more than some blockbuster films make. Needless to say, women play mobile and video games. Period.

In an interview with Stephen Colbert where he hilariously plays devil’s advocate, sarcastically asking all the inane questions that have been thrown her way endlessly recently, he asks her why women can’t create their own games?

Anita answers that is exactly what women like the aforementioned Zoe Quinn etc are doing, and yet they too get targeted and accused of “sleeping their way to the top” yada yada yada, the usual tripe and line of argument that has no intelligence, but shows exactly why Anita is speaking out about the blatant sexism and misandry in this industry. The contradictions are obvious and in fact the more the threats intensify, the more Anita feels the need to speak because there are many who are afraid to.

While she’s not the first to identify there is an inherent cultural problem brewing in the video game world between male and female gamers for quite some time, her focused Youtube series on the subject struck quite a nerve with people, which is probably why she became an obvious target.

“There’s a toxicity within gaming culture, and also in tech culture, that drives this misogynist hatred, this reactionary backlash against women who have anything to say, especially those who have critiques or who are feminists. There’s this huge drive to silence us, and if they can’t silence us, they try to discredit us in an effort to push us out,” she told Rolling Stone magazine.

“GamerGate is really a sexist temper tantrum [laughs]. That’s kind of a silly, funny way of putting it, but it’s kind of what it feels like, right? They’re going after and targeting women who are trying to make changes in the industry. They’re attacking anyone who supports women.”

And there are plenty of men who are speaking out against the idiot cowardly trolls who think they have a right to threaten half of the gaming population, including these two:

Anita is positive that the more she, and others speak out, the issue will be elevated in such a way that the men going to such lengths as the anonymous Utah letter-writer will understand they can not silence or stop those fighting for equality.

“People are starting to acknowledge that the industry has a problem with women, that sexism and misogyny are quite prevalent both in the larger culture and within the games — of course, not in all of them by any stretch of the imagination, but in quite a few, as my videos point out. Developers are starting to talk within their studios about how they want their games and their representations to change. Communities are starting to determine what is appropriate behavior within their communities. There’s this overarching feeling of, ‘We have a problem and we’re gonna fix this’.”

Although she has been criticized for using the word “feminist” in her video’s titles, she ain’t afraid to shout about it, and believes more than ever the representation of women in gaming, pop culture and entertainment needs to be elevated and de-sexualized.

The positive reactions she is getting from all the talks she gives, her video messages and interviews tell her that her work is important and the angry voices of a few will not drown out the stronger, supportive voices of the majority. Way to go Anita! And thank you Stephen Colbert for pretty much sticking it to all those who threaten female gamers and critics of the existent misogyny, because you just gave Anita and her message one of the biggest platforms possible. Check. Mate.

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