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This essay is a very belated response to a " part 1 " published in February 2015. The gist of that essay was a response to a corre...

Thursday, October 30, 2014


I watched the 10-29 broadcast of Anita Sarkeesian's appearance on the Colbert show twice, trying to see if this newest media critic had anything pertinent to say. But first, I'll jot down today's Beat post, responding to another poster who disputed Sarkeesian's claim that no one but female critics of gamer culture had received threats and harassment.

Thanks for listing the names [of male critics who suffered harassment], Johnny.  I'm not into games and had no acquaintance with any of these cases.  I've seen some pro and con on the gentlemen listed, particularly Cernovich. But even if none of the three might be deemed a poster boy for Equal Harassment by Feminist Frequency, even one is enough to put the lie to Sarkeesian's claim.
It would appear that in Sarkeesian's haste to construct a "poor pitiful me" narrative, she allowed herself to forget the rich heritage of harassment of males, by males.  Has everyone forgotten the sixties (insert predictable pot joke here), when a guy with long hair was like a red flag, waved in front of the noses of buzzcut Minotaurs?
This is not to say that women don't practice their own brand of harassment.  It's just more subtle-- like Sarkeesian's misinformation.

I don't game and don't personally care about gamer culture.  But as I listened to Sarkeesian's interview, I thought that she had one good point: that *maybe* gamer culture could benefit from fewer "damsels in distress" and more female characters with "agency."

I hasten to add that it's only a good point if it's true.  On Reddit I uncovered this comment responding to one of Sarkeesian's attacks:

It's nice that Sarkeesian attacked Dragon Age Origins (DAO) for being sexists because:
  1. DAO allows you to be a male or female lead character
  2. DAO allows you to pick whatever sexuality you want to pursue
  3. DAO put in dedicated gay, bi and transgender chacters (Shale though he was a guy but he was actually a girl)
  4. DAO develop female NPC's are villains, heroes, martyrs, leaders, rule breakers

But let's say, for sake of argument, that Sarkeesian is right in broad (heh) terms: that there aren't enough "empowered" female characters in current games.  The simple plea that there should be more is entirely legitimate, and unless one believes that the entire game-making industry is blinkered by Zizekian "ideology," the game-makers might be willing to take more chances on such characters, simply because of this sort of protest.

In my essay LITERARY EQUITY, POSITIVE AND NEGATIVE, I ventured this comment upon the different effects of attempts to promote an equality of status in art and literature:

... "positive equity" is achieved when someone points out a genuine abuse of fairness, while "negative equity" is achieved when someone uses the concept of fairness incorrectly, to be unfair to someone else.

Since I've started with the assumption that Sarkeesian's analysis is correct, that there aren't enough empowered female game-characters, then I'm advancing the assumption that she has achieved positive equity by that statement.  It's not quite as pro-active as actually creating such heroines, a la William Moulton Marston and Trina Robbins, but it could, in theory, have positive results, encouraging a game-maker to take a chance on something that proved to be noteworthy.

And yet, in the Colbert interview Sarkeesian tainted even the good points in her narrative.  Colbert lightly satirized his own gender by talking about how he enjoyed seeing big-busted women wearing armor that barely covers their nipples. But, going solely by that interview, Sarkeesian flatly believes that all such depictions are "objectification." I'll have to investigate Feminist Frequency to see if she's ever advanced any more nuanced arguments. But even Kelly Thompson, much as I abhor her one-sided ideology, admits that it's entirely logical for exhibitionistic characters, such as the White Queen, to exhibit themselves all over the place.

Thus, Sarkeesian giveth only to take away.  Let's have more female characters, but only the types that Anita Sarkeesian deems worthwhile. I continue to insist, as with the essay-series beginning here, that feminine exhibitionism is not inherently disempowering. If, as the interview suggests, Sarkeesian can only see it negatively, then that means that even when she encourages one form of equity, she discourages another form, the artist's right to show whatever he wants to show-- whether his motives are those of Robert Crumb or those of Roger Corman.

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