I have mixed feelings about Kickstarters. The idea of customers giving a creator money to create something which will cost the same customers more money to obtain when complete creates a weird ass financial/creative Ouroboros, but undoubtedly, projects that would be hard to find private, corporate funding for, it’s a godsend.
My feelings on rampant, unapologetic misogyny are crystal clear: Fuck those people. Full stop. Misogyny, misandry, homophobia, any sort of superiority based solely on that ridiculous thing between your legs and how you use it is bullshit at its runniest.
Which leads to the tale of one Anita Sarkeesian. Anita’s a feminist blogger who focuses on stereotyping in popular culture, which on the internet is regrettably like painting a target on her vagina to begin with. And then she decided to create a kickstarter for an online documentary called Tropes vs Women In Video Games covering female stereotyping, sexism, and characterization in gaming.
That picture is of the comments section under the YouTube video of her pitch, which I’ve linked below. Granted, yes, it’s the comments under a YouTube video, cancer cures and world peace will not be starting there, but that picture alone would be reason enough for why this documentary needs to be a thing that happens. But really, this is a hideously under-explored subject that needs to have volumes of material and research done, and deserves such as the medium starts going through its creative growing pains. Granted, I say that on a day where I’m hours away from getting started on a game where a short-skirted cheerleader kills zombies with a chainsaw, and I’m kinda okay with that. Here’s what the type of people who get offended when someone points out the problems with, say, every male character calling Catwoman a bitch in Arkham City don’t get: Minor objectification is not bad in itself. Objectification and respect do not have to be mutually exclusive; guys tend to be short on that second point, game designers even shorter. When the first reaction to someone even suggesting there’s a problem is to call her a feminazi cunt and to go back to the kitchen, we are a long, long way from a point where women are being unreasonable in asking for even basic consideration to the ideas Anita wants to explore here.
To that end, Anita deserves all the help and support that can be mustered. Especially from men. We have a role to play in this too, in this our asshole brethren can’t be allowed to be the loudest voices in this argument. They feel entitled to call this woman a cunt because there’s 1000 other guys who are on his side. Never minding those of us who wouldn’t take this shit about our mothers, sisters, daughters, but for those of us who want this medium to do better, be seen as better in so many different areas, stifling the idea that game creators are faltering in any specific area, let alone in terms of gender roles, and need to strive for more is creative death. Fuck that noise.
The easiest way to do your good deed for the day on this is to shoot Anita a few bucks via Anita’s Kickstarter page. You can also see what and how she plans to tackle in the documentary.
The bigger effort, however, is to not be silent on this. And not just by posting somewhere on her site, or on the YouTube page, though it certainly helps. I’m all for civilly debating the minutiae of the male gaze in this or any other medium. Simian chest beating and rape threats are the opposite of that. Reinforce everywhere we can that these assholes so do not represent us all. You want better characters in games? That starts by lobbying for better humans to create and support them.