Freebie: Anita Sarkeesian said it better (and that’s okay)

For quite a while, I’ve been working on collecting data for a post about sex workers in video games. It was going to be long and contain a lot of detailed data points and… honestly I tried to find just about any excuse not to work on it, because it was hard. Almost all of the games I was looking at were of the GRIMDARK MALE HERO school of protagonist design, which for the most part I avoid like the plague. (Although I’m willing to make exceptions for exceptional writing. I loved The Last of Us so much that I wrote two posts about it.)

So in order to gather the data points that I was looking for, I was having to wade through some truly awful gameplay clips on youtube, or depressing Google Image search results, and it was just depressing.

spreadsheet
This is the spreadsheet I was putting together. (CLICK FOR MORE READABLE VIEW)

And the idea of collecting all the data points I wanted for the entire list of 86 titles I’d put together was more than daunting. It made me want to give up all together. And I felt bad about that, because it was important – something well worth writing about! Something that spoke to the deepest core of misogyny in the game development industry.

And then Anita Sarkeesian released her most recent video about the phenomenon she calls “non-player sex objects”, which addressed everything that I wanted to say and so much more. And I’ve been mulling over the problem of this post that I wanted to write and realizing that the thing I was planning on writing? I think that’s a thing that would be redundant now. Because Anita said it better than I could.

I feel a little bad about it, because this was something that I’d had hanging over my head for the last six months. But at the same time, I have to recognize that doing the needed research required exposing myself to disturbing and violent imagery, which was a task I just don’t have the emotional bandwidth for right now.

Still, I thought it was worth writing a brief post here, because I want to highlight again that Anita Sarkeesian IS A MOTHERFUCKING SUPERHERO. She deals with the absolute worst that the internet can throw at her and marinates in the disturbing and graphic misogyny produced by the game industry and still manages to create videos that are insightful and powerful and compelling.

I’ll probably still write about sex workers in video games at some point in the future, but I imagine it will be more narrowly focused than the sprawlingly ambitious piece I had intended to write. In the mean time, if you haven’t seen Part 2 of the Non-Playable Sex Objects series, here it is. [ALL OF THE TRIGGER WARNINGS]

5 thoughts on “Freebie: Anita Sarkeesian said it better (and that’s okay)

  1. I look forward to seeing more of your posts. While Anita may have said it better by some measures, I think your style & focus is distinct enough that your point of view would add to the discourse. Anita has an established neutral academic tone that she can’t really deviate from within her Tropes vs Women program, e.g. she can’t just go “Argh what the fuck is wrong with these people!” without totally changing the way she presents herself.

    While Anita’s approach is nice and inviting, I like your more visceral response when you see completely reprehensible material. It makes it feel more normal to be pissed off by this crap, instead of just intellectualizing & calmly explaining why it’s problematic.

    I hope you keep working on this stuff, I can’t understand how hard it is. I got shaky during a relatively mild twitter exchange last weekend: https://twitter.com/jf_bikes/status/505777750582763521 , I can’t imagine how I’d react if I got the same kind of vitriol that you or Anita get. It’d probably just stop using whatever accounts were associated and keep my mouth shut. I am acutely aware that I’m slowly poisoning my own future success by putting my real name in pro-feminist posts. I wonder if future employers will find my tweet about CppCon, these blog comments, and that Google Test gender-neutral language argument, and reject me for it.

    Maybe trans-inclusive intersectional feminists & post-colonial types need to form their own anti-“old boys club”, but that requires the privileged members to use their privilege to elevate others. That’s sort of why I keep trying.

  2. There has been so much yuck on the internet from all the people who have decided its their life mission to oppose Anita Sarkeesian and others. Normally I don’t like when the news has a “There’s a bunch of bad news so here’s a happy fluff piece” story, but I found this twitter conversation between a game developer and a troll where the game developer is able to talk down a troll a nice read, so I thought I’d pass it along in case anyone else is interested. https://storify.com/brett_douville/extending-the-branch.

    But kinda like Jean said, both you and Anita Sarkeesian are heros. Keep up the good work, but at the same time, don’t burn yourself out.

    • Wow Nick, that storify was an inspiring (and exhausting) read. It really shows how bad Twitter really is at allowing people to genuinely communicate when you can’t figure out what’s a reply to what. I won’t be extending branches on Twitter anytime soon (I’ll keep just posting links to cool stuff), but maybe I’ll do the branch thing next time I have a road-ragey encounter on my bike.

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