Anita Sarkeesian’s video series, “Tropes Vs. Women in Video Games” is great. It’s like a feminist version of Jerry Mender’s Four Arguments only for video games, and without dismissing the entire medium. Sadly, there are a lot of nonsense out there disguising itself as a ‘response’ of some sort to the video series. Thunderfoot’s is popular. It’s also pretty long and very, very serious.
I can go off like Thunderfoot and start calling him idiot and repeat “Look how ridiculous this is!” without end, but that would be wrong. I would also look ridiculous.
The first thing we see is the ‘face of feminist atheism’ throwing a sexist insult at an unnamed male atheist. I call this joke sexist because it deals specifically with the target’s sexuality. I fail to see, however, how this backs up Thunderfoot’s argument. Show me a single feminist who says something stupid, and all I can conclude is that Watson said something really stupid. He later shows more example of ‘bad feminists’, but they don’t hold up. He also says it was directed at the “entire male atheist audience.” Sure, a single insult directed at a single person is an attack on entire audience.
Anita Sarkeesian appears in about 1:23 into the video, and is accused of lying 1:46. His evidence of her lying is one instance where Anita shows a picture of her playing Super Mario, saying she has “been playing game for quite a while”. Then there is a video where she introduces her project, saying, “This is a fandom. I’m not a fan of video games. I had to learn a lot about video games while doing this,” and “I’d love to play video games, but I don’t want to go around shooting people, ripping off people’s heads, that’s gross.”
Playing video games and being a part of the fandom are not the same thing. There are people who listen to the band’s hits, and people who buy merchandise and go to shows. Yes, that means she has less knowledge of video games. That’s why she also she says she needs to learn a lot about them. She drops a lot of names in her videos, so she probably did her learning. As for the second quote, it says Anita isn’t really into the aesthetics of violence. She probably won’t see what’s the big deal with John Woo. That’s okay.
Thunderfoot uses the second quote to ask, “Why does sexism in video games bothers Anita, while violence doesn’t?”. Violence in video games and women in video games are two different issues. Anita focuses on the latter, and her videos never pretend to be some sort of general analysis of all aspects of video games. As I said, it’s Four Arguments, only from a solely feminist perspective. That’s not minimizing other issues. They’re just off topic.
The ‘video games influence people’ topic appears about 3 minutes into it. Thunderfoot’s interprets Anita’s saying (“Video games help shape our society by challenging or reinforcing existing values, beliefs and behaviors”) as: A video game teaches exactly what the character does. His examples: Left 4 Dead teaches people to survive the zombie the apocalypse, Assassin’s Creed teaching people it’s okay to assassinate for the guild, and Call 4 Duty teaches to solve problems using a headshot.
This is not a strawman. This not understanding the basic idea of ‘imagery influence people. If he read serious writers on this topic, like Neil Postman or Jerry Mender he’d know that the influence is not obvioua, monkey-see-monkey-do thing (Sometimes, it is). I admit I have not read all of this, but notice how it refers to “aggressive behavior”, and the final paragraphs, which offer conclusion, do not speak of specific acts (Unlike Thunderfoot), but general aggressive behavior or thoughts. If this is anything to go by, video games do have some sort of effect. I don’t really know what’s with the GTA guy though.
Anita didn’t bring evidence regarding this idea, true, but the purpose of her videos is to analyze women’s representation in video games, not the influence of video games in society. She only talked about the impact on the real world in general terms. Yes, it would’ve been better if she had a study or something, but even great people sometimes make mistakes.
Thunderfoot goes off on the “What’s your priority?” yet again, missing what I pointed above, while using murder statistics to prove “video games have no effect on reality”. I refer to the study I linked to yet again, which talked about “aggresive behavior”, not killing people. Killing people is merely one act of violence. So video games don’t influence the murder statistics, but that’s not it. Also, Anita doesn’t talk about “saving this [Peach from Mario] princess”, she talks about how much this trope appears.
(According to Thunderfoot’s graph, murders had a peak somewhere around after 1990. Wolfenstein 3D, DOOM, and Quake were all released from 1992 to 1996, but no matter).
Around 4:58, I get told that “It would be hard for Anita to play the victim when all she has is not liking these first persons shooters” (Not the exact quote). I don’t see how Anita not liking violent video games somehow makes her argument less valid. Violence against women isn’t the only thing she talks about. Thunderfoot himself shows us she also talks about the damsel in distress.
TIME OFF FOR FUN: A comment by “Cynthia King” criticizes Anita for wearing beauty enhancing products while talking about serialization in video games. By addressing this, Cynthia King distracts us from the much more serious problem: None of Anita’s videos contains a well-placed bass drop.
If Thunderfoot actually paid attention during Anita’s videos, he would know that she’s not on a crusade against FPS games. It takes a while before FPS games even appear.
Anita’s “These games are made by men, for men, and if girls are want to participate they need to shut up.”
This isn’t the best phrasing of that idea, but like I said great people sometimes make mistakes. Anita talks about the exclusion, the whole idea of boys-only. Thunderfoot counters it by going to ‘Games2Girls’, and says that according to her logic that site is sexist because it doesn’t feature a random FPS in the middle of ‘puzzle games for girls’. Let’s forget that he still thinks this is only about FPS’s, but that Anita would probably think that a ‘Games2Girls’ site is also wrong. Never in her videos did she ask for games only for girls. She only asked for games which are not dominated by males, and her examples of what does it right are, among them: Beyond Good and Evil, To The Moon, Papo & Yo. Watch her videos for the details, but the gist of her argument is that these games are only male-targeted, reject the female voice and thus reject a whole audience which is interested in them*.
6:38 – Here comes more of, “She’s a liar because she’s not a real gamer!”
Madonna appears as an example of women who disassociate themselves from feminism because of “those who vocally associate themselves with feminism”. Considering how much bullshit I found in Thunderfoot’s video, I’d say the feminists are doing much better. Watson’s stupid comment is nothing compared to all of this.
There’s more – here comes the examples of why feminism is so bad:
– A woman saying “If you’re not a feminist, then you’re a bigot. There’s nothing in between”. I think she creates her a false dilemma, but I can see her logic. I’d say she’s wrong, but it’s not total bullshit.
– The snippet with the red-haired one is a mess. She seems pissed off, but it’s also implied the guy was interrupting her reading. I have no idea what to make of this. Maybe he really acted like an asshole. Maybe she needs anger management. This says nothing.
– A woman telling me there is a school of art that focuses on the female body parts. No opinion is expressed here. “Focusing on body parts” doesn’t tell me anything. She might as well have said that a lot of party songs are about going to a party and probably find someone to have sex with.
– Anita making a bold statement about women being “oppressed all the time”. Thunderfoot cuts off before giving her a chance to present anything.
– A woman talking about how ‘bitch’ is an insult based on gender. ‘Bitch’ also means female dog, and is used casually when referred to women sometimes not an insult. Female rappers commonly call themselves bitches (Trina had an album “Da Baddest Bitch”). Talking about this word can be a pretty good idea. Nothing wrong here.
– Anita calling something “Choose Your Own Patriarchal Porno Fantasy”. Thunderfoot doesn’t show us what it is. I AM DYING TO KNOW.
Wikipedia makes a wild apperance in 8:20. Feminists claim Wikipedia is biased, and Thunderfoot claims their evidence is that ‘they say so’. No evidence of that appears. What does appear, though, is the “Are Women Weaker Than Man?” thing. I agree women and men are structured differently, but what we do with this difference, and when exactly it is relevant, is what matters.
Dividing the Olympics makes sense, just as dividing wrestling according to weight. I’m not a biology expert, so feel free to tell me more. The Olympics merely acknowledge a difference exists, but not that one is worse than the other, or something.
He dismisses a study (book) solely because it is described as ‘feminist’. I’m serious. The book describes itself as feminist, therefore it is invalid and he will not even bother to read it. The studies he does think are okay talk about a very small part of the human body. Grip and elbow muscles are not the only things that make up strength.
Anita should have brought evidence, true, but even if the premise “Women are generally weaker than men” is true, it wouldn’t undermine Anita’s project (To show how prevalent sexism is in video games, and explain why it’s problematic).
Thunderfoot has more videos against Anita. I watched another one, which was also filled with bullshit, but that’s for a later post. Thunderfoot, like a lot of others who don’t agree with Sarkeesian, completely miss the point. You’d think such a well-thought video series would start an interesting and engaging dialogue. I don’t agree with everything Anita says, but nevertheless she says a lot of interesting things and this sort of critical thinking is what video games need to progress.