Over the past few days, the horrible comments on Anita Sarkeesian’s video asking for support for her Kickstarter Project Tropes v. Women in Video Games (warning: the comments are high offensive) have caused various appalled reactions with women and men around the Web. Sarkeesian’s goal is to research hundreds of female game characters and discuss the issues that appear in a video series. She previously discussed the issues in her video series TV Tropes v. Women, looking at the various boxes female characters find themselves in (damsel in distress, straw feminist, ect.).
She posted the video on June 4. As of 6:46 p.m. today, viewers lefts 11,742 comments. The majority of the comments feature horrible, offensive and disrespectful slams at Sarkeesian, women, Jews, homosexuals and others. Sadly, not a single degrading comment on the video is a surprise.
Trash talking is a common part of video games. It doesn’t matter what game it is, if people can talk to one another, insults fly. Listen to some gamers talk about a fight. The term “rape” is often used in addition to racists, sexist or other derogative terms. The use of the word “rape” is never okay to use. Defeating another character is not raping her. Rape is a horrible, forced act that in no way should be used as a term to describe an accomplishment or feat. Many who use these terms would never say such remarks in person. The virtual world creates the idea that a player can be someone else. Unfortunately, the worse side of people appears often.
I’ve been insulted in games. I’ve refused to log onto Vent and TeamSpeak channels because I couldn’t stand the horrible insults throw between not only the various players but at the ones they played against. The types of insults thrown out are so hateful that it’s impossible to ignore them. It doesn’t just bother the group being insulted. I’m not Jewish and it makes me sick to hear a player use a slur.
While some gaming companies do respond when in-game harassment occurs, they aren’t helping the problem enough. A Blizzard employee helped me out when another male character sent constant harassing messages during an instance run in World of Warcraft. I don’t know if the player was punished or what came of it, but the employee seemed to take the issue seriously. The way that these companies feed the problem is with the portrayal of female characters and a lack of screening of in-game chat.
Log into World of Warcraft. One of the loading screens shows a Night Elf with her breasts almost completely exposed. The Night Elf dance looks like something in a person would see in a strip club. Make a character in Star Wars The Old Republic. All the female characters have large breasts and can’t be overweight like the male characters. I remember when I first found out about Tomb Raider. The boys in my class couldn’t get over the fact that Lara Croft ran around with huge breasts. The majority of their conversations about the game discussed her body. There’s not enough action taken against hateful insults. While it’s impossible to catch every incident, more effort can be put into enforcing the cessation of harassment. Some type of system that flags certain terms would make a difference.
It’s not a secret that many women love video games. The negative atmosphere makes it difficult to enjoy the game fully, though. How many great gamers don’t raid with groups or stay out of battleground because of harmful words? How many gamers avoid games that involve conversing with others because of this problem?
The insults on Anita Sarkeesian’s video prove her point repeatedly. The comments are hate speech. If a politician or other public figure said some of the comments written on the page, he would be ostracized. It is not okay to insult women or anyone else. It is not okay to belittle or disregard a female gamer. Players can cheer when they defeat another player in a player versus player setting without saying that they “raped that bitch.” Many of the comments tell Sarkeesian to “go back to the kitchen” or reference that it’s a travesty when “ovaries try to think.” These types of comments reduce women to objects.
The comments also show that the word feminist is grossly misunderstood. A feminist wants equality, not superiority. Feminists are not trying to squash men into subservient beings or take away their jobs. I want to be able to play a video game without reading sexist insults or be able to find a good book series featuring a good female character without searching for hours online only to find that the woman becomes a stereotype. The sad fact is that the people who do make such horrific statements and have these beliefs hold far too much power over the market.
Check out Anita Sarkeesian Tropes videos and her Kickstarter project Tropes v. Women in Video Games to find out more information about the ways the media stereotypes women, the project’s status and other information.