Jim Sterling: expanding his audience while still unabashedly sexist
May 31, 2011 75 Comments
Before you read any further
So the funny thing about people is that they change. Imagine that! At the time of writing these posts, I never could have imagined that Jim Sterling would have a change of heart, but he did indeed. He was actually gracious enough to let me interview him about how he’s reversed his stance and how that happened; you can read the interview here on Gaming as Women.
The internet being the internet – there’s no real point in taking this down. It’s out there forever. But I can at least put it in context.
Okay folks. I know I promised a post about Shelly Mazzanoble, but that’s going to take a fair bit of work and I already had this mostly put together. So that will be something I come back to down the line.
If you’ve been reading for more than a few months, you’ll probably know that I already did one of these in the wake of the whole Jim Sterling/Daphny dust-up on twitter back before I moved to WordPress. Well, since then Jim has restarted Podtoid over on Destructoid and he’s also gotten a new forum for the Jimquisition over on the Escapist. In his most recent Jimquisition, he actually made some reasonable points about the problems inherent in Duke Nukem not being portrayed ironically… until he veered right back into calling anyone who doesn’t understand that he’s joking when he makes misogynist comments a complete moron. (I’m paraphrasing.)
So since I’d been collecting material for a follow-up post, I thought now would be a good time to highlight some of the things us complete morons are too humorless to appreciate as “ironic humor”. All of the material seen here is new since my previous post in February. Also, the post is long because – as before – I want to make sure people understand that these aren’t just isolated comments.
This is not for the faint of heart
As before, trigger warnings for slut-shaming, jokes about abuse, and rampant misogyny. Quotes below are provided with links to the original article to prove that I’m not taking things out of context. Any emphasis made has been added by me and is not part of the original comment. Comments in brackets are my comments, not Jim. Lastly, comments have been loosely categorized for your reading convenience.
Okay. Let’s do this.
As everyone knows, all gamers are dudes
Atlus has announced a special edition version of Catherine, set to launch in North America on July 26. It’s been perfectly designed for rigid-cocked gamers, aching to burst their bags over drawings of girls. So, you’re all looking forward to it! (Behold the wanktastic Catherine ‘Love Is Over’ edition)
Ladies and gentlemen, we are proud to introduce you to the iPhone game that will single-handedly push the female rights movement back sixty years. … It’s called Pillowfight Girls and, while we’ve not been told exactly how it plays, we can posit a fairly confident guess. Basically, women with big tits and very little clothing will hit each other for the perverse amusement of desperate young men. Basically, it’s the kind of game that Destructoid readers would absolutely love. (Pillowfight Girls bringing sexy misogyny to iPhone)
[Wait - there's a video game with sexist content? Shit! Why didn't anyone tell me? Feminism is so fucked! Screw this. I might as well just shut down this whole blog!]
Massive jugs and rampant chauvinism. That’s what the iPhone was made for, folks! (Pillowfight Girls bringing sexy misogyny to iPhone)
[That's funny. I thought it was for watching movies, listening to music, playing games, surfing the web, and making phonecalls. I mean, it has "phone" in the name of the product, after all.]
Breasts make everything better
The game looks gorgeous, has a more involved combat system, and it doesn’t skimp on the breasts — what’s not to love? Oh, and in case you think I’m being sexist, I’m talking about Geralt’s breasts. I’ve waited over a year for that man’s fine Witcher titties, and I’ll be damned if I don’t get ‘em! (The Witcher 2 has gone gold!)
What’s that, sir? You’d like to order a new trailer for Duke Nukem Forever? You want it to have guns in? Aliens, too? Would you like some violence to go with that? Excellent choice, sir. Oh, and a double helping of NSFW breasts, while we’re at it. I think that can be arranged. (Blood and boobies: Duke Nukem Forever gives)
[Because, really, who cares about coverage of things like gameplay in hotly anticipated titles? Everyone knows the important topics that need covering - how many breasts will there be?]
I’m sure it’s clever and satirical and all that, but none of it matters right now because there are drawings of girls doing implied lesbian things. (The girls of Neptune get frisky in new artwork)
[There is nothing in this world more important than lesbians. Global hunger? Nope. Poverty? Nope. Global warming? Nope. Lesbians trump them all. LESBIANS.]
Right now it’s not clear whether or not the boobs will jiggle with motion controls, a’la Ninja Gaiden 2 Sigma, but we do know that you’ll be copping an eyeful of physics-defying mammaries. This is obviously a very important story that needs following, so we’ll be sure to keep you updated on the state of Dimensions’ massive swollen busters as when fresh information becomes available. … We’re talking about BIG FRIGGING MILKERS, PEOPLE! (3D breast wobbling confirmed in Dead or Alive Dimensions)
According to Japanese sources, Dead or Alive 3DS is not only going to feature massive, swollen, jiggling mammary milk tumors in 3D, but it will also allow those massive, swollen, jiggling mammary milk tumors to be manipulated with motion control as well. Oh Tecmo, YOU SO BREASTS! (Motion-controlled breasts coming to Dead or Alive 3DS?)
[Clearly this is an important story. So important that he felt it warranted not one, but two different stories devoted to the importance of motion-controlled digital breasts?]
All feminists are ugly, hurr hurr
There’s been a lot of talk of sexism in the videogame industry, as is inevitable in a male-dominated arena. It has come to my attention that sexism is a bad thing, and as such, it falls to leaders of social progress such as myself to right the course of this little boat we call civilization. (The Ultimate Female Role Models In Gaming)
[Oh, Jim! We poor wimminz are too stupid to solve this problem on our own! Save us, Jim! Save us!]
Recently, Gamer Limit wrote a disgustingly objectifying article on female videogame characters, implying with 100% seriousness that the only thing females have to offer the world are their firm, supple breasts and magnificent vaginal crevices. This is NOT true! (The Ultimate Female Role Models In Gaming)
[That bastard! I mean, come on. Couldn't he have at least given a shout out to all the ass men out there?]
Metroid’s Mother Brain may look like a hideous, squirming mass of mutated grey matter, but she is a cold, calculating, inspiring role model for young women. She was created by the Chozo to act as their unwilling underling, but rebelled against their rule — an encouraging story to females who wish to break from the oppression of dominating male figures. (The Ultimate Female Role Models In Gaming)
Now, there is a touchy issue with the Berserker, in that the Locust tend to imprison them for mating purposes, and the human COG forces even speculate that they are sexually assaulted. However, the fact they’re a totally alien race notwithstanding, the very idea that Berserkers are so terrifyingly violent that the males can’t go near them without significant restraints and disproportionate force is pretty remarkable. Oh, and I’m sure a fair few male Locust end up with their heads battered into a gloopy, viscous paste before, during or after coitus. You go, girl! (The Ultimate Female Role Models In Gaming)
Vertigo is a blue snake with arms and legs, boasting hypnotic powers that she employs against fire-breathing, teleporting dinosaurs. Now if only we had a few more ladies like that in our so-called “modern” media, the world would be a fairer place. (The Ultimate Female Role Models In Gaming)
[Jim's right! If I were really serious about my feminism, I'd try harder to be a shambling, drooling horror!]
So there you have it — a list of female role models in gaming that didn’t trot out Jade, Samus or Alyx Vance, nor rely on hot girls with big boobs. How about that? Of course, I don’t know what kind of point this made, if indeed it made any point at all, but isn’t that the eventual conclusion of any game-related discussion about sexism, racism, or other social issues? Nothing is learned, nothing changes, and we just regurgitate the same old rhetoric from emotionally charged positions with no interest in what anyone actually has to say. (The Ultimate Female Role Models In Gaming)
[Because everyone knows that there's no point about talking about issues of social justice. If we all just ignore issues of inequality, everyone knows that they'll go away. Come on, people.]
Not to sound like a date rapist or anything but let’s be honest here — she was asking for it. It’s not like Bayonetta has been presented as a morally upstanding game that promotes chastity and the Christian way of life. She’s a woman who frequently gets her clothes off and thrusts her bacon slice into the camera whenever she can. Hardly the classiest of games. (Bayonetta porn angers game creator)
Just strikes me as a little rich that Kamiya is trying to pull some high horse nonsense over this. Especially if he hasn’t seen the worst of the Bayonetta porn like I have… I mean, like I haven’t. Because I haven’t. (I have) (Bayonetta porn angers game creator)
[I'm pretty open about disliking Bayonetta, but no woman is ever "asking for it", Jim.]
No matter what you say, rape, abuse, and murder are funny
How dare the ESRB expect parents to be parents? Don’t they know how many rapes and Ground Zero mosques will happen now!? (Predictable: FOX News attacks sexist Duke Nukem Forever)
Like always, the ESRB has gone through the violent and sexual content in clinical detail, revealing some hot details. There’s tons of violence, with blood spurts and “realistic” gunfights. Plenty of nudity as well, but perhaps not the best kind, considering it’s mostly mutilated murder victims with their clothes off. There is pubic hair on them, though … so I guess that’s it’s a trade-off. (ESRB: L.A. Noire has blood spurts, pubic hair, racism)
[A trade-off? Between what? Disturbed and even more disturbed?]
There’s no doubt that Duke Nukem Forever is going to upset some people. In a world where you can’t even make a joke that happens to have the word “rape” in it without someone throwing a hissy fit… (Feminist organizations welcome to use Duke)
If you say the word ‘rape’ within a joke, you’re basically a rapist too! (Jimquisition: Solving the sexism situation)
[I mean, honestly. So he told
a... some... a lot of jokes about rape. Somebody call the waaaaambulance.]
And as for Duke Nukem Forever, keep Capture The Babe, but add in a new mode for the ladies – Diddle the Juke, a game in which you fiddle with Duke Nukem’s balls while he cries and begs you to stop. (Jimquisition: Solving the sexism situation)
[I fail to see how that is either comparable or at all appealing to any female demographic ever. Srsly, yuck.]
Anyone who thinks I’m sexist is a humorless moron and an idiot
Here’s the thing. Duke Nukem Forever’s premise is pretty sexist, and one can’t really deny that. You know what though? Does it really f*cking matter? When it comes to fictional people doing fictional things to each other in a fictional world, does it really affect you? No, it doesn’t, no matter how much you pretend a game like DNF could influence society with the “messages” you’ve projected onto it.
… Seriously, how does it send the message that violence against women is normal? What’s normal about spanking women while people shoot at you with a shrink ray? (Petition asks Walmart not to sell ‘sexist’ Duke Nukem)
[I think you already know each other but... Jim Sterling, this is Strawman. Strawman, Jim Sterling. I just thought a formal introduction was in order since you spend so much time together.]
I’m with Ken for sure. I think certain individuals within certain demographics want their fictional representatives to be 100% meritorious, possibly to salve their own insecurities and gain some sense of justification. Anything that deviates from this total pandering is blasted as bigotry, when it’s not that way at all. (BioWare writer accused of negatively portraying gay folk)
Personally, I think words like “misogynistic” are getting thrown around so much online that their true meanings are starting to get devalued. They get slapped on videogames, movies and individuals almost like a weapon, an insidious exploitation of emotionally-charged labels in an effort to bully people into keeping their mouths shut. It doesn’t matter if it’s a harmless joke or not, everything gets tarred with the same brush, and I think it makes a mockery of serious hate issues.
…That, to me, is more harmful than any fictional character doing imaginary things to a not-real woman. (Feminist organizations welcome to use Duke)
[Translation: everyone knows that feminists actually want to enslave men. All that nonsense about wanting equality is just pablum they spew to make men feel complacent enough to give them all the power. Only morons think that sexism is a serious situation that actually needs attention.]
In many cases, I think the issue of sexism is overblown and it’s very easy to get caught up in our inability to distinguish jokes from actual hatred. In fact, I don’t think we as a community even deserve to have these discussions if we’re still going to get up in arms about a simple little joke [unintelligible] … just to focus on the bit that we find particularly offensive. (Jimquisition: Solving the sexism situation)
[Translation: hate crimes don't happen to women. True story.]
Here’s a simple truth. Men like to look at tits. I’m sorry if a few people find that offensive, but that’s simply the way we’re wired. I didn’t come up with the concept. It’s a little thing we call “fucking genetics”. And it’s the reason why the human species is here. Men like to, I guess, objectify women because that’s what they’ve evolved to do. (Jimquisition: Solving the sexism situation)
[What about ass men? Or leg men? For that matter, what about the ten percent (roughly) of the population that is gay? Are you willing to include lesbians who like looking at tits to offset the gay men who don't care about them one way or the other?]
(some of) Jim Sterling’s twitter responses to criticism on the Escapist forums
Amusingly, it came to my attention that my previous post collecting Jim Sterling quotes was linked several times in the Escapist forums in response to Jim’s Solving the Sexism Situation episode of the Jimquisition. There were some people in the thread who stuck up for Sterling and said they liked the video, but the majority of people in the thread said that Jim was 1) not funny 2) stupid 3) and/or blatantly sexist.
Rather than attempt to converse with anyone about this on the forums, Jim posted a bunch of hyper-defensive tweets calling the Escapist forum users “elitist cunts”.
Are we taking about the same forum? I don’t need to generalize. Escapist forumers are angry people.
Ah, no. Dtoid forum guys are generally lovely folk.
[Right. These would be the ones who you said would love sexy misogyny and masturbating to virtual video game women?]
I see the Escapist forum folk are bagging on it before they’ve even watched it. Thus marks my stopping reading what they have to say.
Yep, pretty much. Their criticisms have become so insular and ridiculous that I’ve given up trying to appeal to them.
Haha, so the Escapist’s elite are saying I am a sexist for daring to suggest that men have evolved to find breasts attractive.
[Haha, so I'm mischaracterizing the response of the large number of people calling me sexist so that I don't have to put serious thought into the fact that maybe they're right.]
To be fair, a lot more of ‘em are warming to me. Once the proper elitist cunts restrain themselves and stop watching, we can all be happy.
[Once the people who disagree with me go away, we can all enjoy ourselves in our nice sexist echo chamber. It's such a drag that people persist in trying to point out our sexism. Don't they know we don't care?]
Yep, and I objectify men regularly. So really, how can that be sexist? Pretty equal opportunity!
Yep! With the irony being that they’re making themselves look like some proper ignorant cunts.
[I fail to see how anyone enlightened or rational can fail to agree with me. These people do not, therefore they are cunts. QED.]
My favorite tweet, however, was one that Jim re-tweeted in response to a tweet sent to him by @NintendoTweet:
@JimSterling nothing sexist about telling women to go back to the kitchen! Women belong there darn it (retweeted by JimSterling)
Nope! Nothing sexist to see here! No sirree!
So there you have it. Despite a twitter dust-up in which Jim Sterling actually managed to anger a few publishers with his misogynistic comments, Jim actually seems to have been working hard at continuing to make sure there is as much sexist commentary with his name on it out there as possible. All of these were collected in just four months. Impressive. Or, wait, did I mean disgusting? I get so confused, what with being a humorless moron and all.