Ok – so you might have heard of this woman already… Anita Sarkeesian is an über modern feminist and pop culture critic. Recently, she took on the gaming industry and the game boys fought back. They literally threatened to kill her, stalked her all over the internet and turned their harassment into a kind of social media game.
If you want to know more about the backlash you can watch this.
I had heard about her, and the game boys reaction, probably saw some snippet of her talking and wrote her off as an extremist not worth paying attention to. But in a moment of perverse, “This will hurt, but it will be good for me to watch something I don’t agree with,” I watched the first episode of her “Tropes vs Women in Video Games” series just to see what all the fuss was about.
Here’s the thing – The first half of the video made me roll my eyes and had my mouse hovering over the back button. But I forced myself to keep going to the end. And I am glad I did. It is at the end of the video – and at the end of all her videos – where she draws together all the points she’s made into a truly coherent statement. Full of truth and seriously thought-provoking.
She is truly brilliant. And fearless. She attacks beloved themes with scythe-like words and shows us the horrifying truth of the sexism that lurks beneath today’s media, whether you want to see it or not.
The conclusion I have drawn from watching her well researched and intelligently written videos is that we are lazy.
All of us are using the same old mechanisms (the tropes and stereotypes) for storytelling over and over again because it is familiar and easy and socially acceptable. With a bit of effort on the part of writers and editors and artists we could create a world where a person’s gender doesn’t really enter into the story at all. Or where their gender adds to their character, instead of being a crutch, or something they have to rise above. We could use our massively creative brains and think of new plots and new character traits and new scenarios. We can do it.
And here is another conclusion I have drawn: Watch the whole thing before you judge. (again – lazy!) The beginnings of her videos are hard to watch. They really are, even now after I’ve watched so many. She attacks the things we love, shoving its flaws in our face. But just give her the benefit of the doubt, stay with her to the end and I promise she will change the way you view the world and make you think new thoughts.
To me, any chance I get to think about things in a new way is worth the effort.