Tropes Vs. Women in Games Pt. 3

by whereibelongsf

The third installment of Anita Sarkeesian’s “Tropes Vs. Women in Video Games” series is up now at her site, Feminist Frequency. I wrote a post about it at my other blog. 

In this episode, she continues to address the damsel in distress trope in games, this time looking at cases where the damsel rescues the prince, as well as the trope in mobile games, and how it is used ironically.

As with the previous two installments, I think it’s great that she is tackling sexism in games. She has some valid points and pointed out how common these themes are. I agree with her overall argument: that sexism in games is so pervasive we hardly notice it. I continue to think that there are holes in her argument, and her combination of overly academic/snarky presentation style hurts her case. I also think she tends to paint with too broad a brush, categorizing everything as terribly sexist without examining the subtleties or the larger picture.  I don’t see her winning over that many gamers who aren’t already on board with feminism. Most irritatingly, she’s right on many issues – games are pretty sexist, and there is a serious lack of strong female characters in games.

Kristin Bezio over at The Learned Fan Girl has a better critique of Feminist Frequency here. It’s one of the few criticisms of her work that is thoughtful and worth reading. If you search “Feminist Frequency criticism” you get a lot of posts from people who think her unwillingness to allow comments on her posts or engage with trolls and assholes is an egregious form of cowardly censorship. Protip: when you write a lengthy blog post documenting your attempts to argue with someone on the internet, and are part of the men’s rights movement, you are in the wrong. Three thousand word documentation of internet arguments is a sure sign that you need to reexamine your life.

A lot of the criticism follows in the camp of NOkaPlpz , whose main points are:

She doesn’t talk about sexism against men at all, even though she claims feminism is for equal rights.

:bulletgreen:She has never made a video about misogyny in the middle east.

:bulletgreen:She hates art that includes sexy dead women and says it has no place in art and that it’s disempowering.

Two things: men’s rights is in the same camp as “reverse racism,” ie. a sure sign you’re being a jerk. Those two movements are simply the majority whining because they are getting a tiny taste of what the minority has been dealing with for years. I’m not suggesting that men and white people deserve to be discriminated against, but they aren’t. Those movements are just ways for people to not have to deal with their own sexism and racism by saying ‘what about me??????’ Has your gender/ethnicity been a second class citizen for millennia? Where your ancestors brought here as slaves? No? Then you should probably shut up. And when you are defending sexy dead chicks, you are seriously on the wrong track.

So in summation: I’m critical of the Tropes Vs. Women series, but even more critical of its critics. Which handily gets me off the hook. Sarkeesian deserves credit for tackling the issue, and I hope the constructive dialogue that her series generates outnumbers those who merely take a defensive stance.