Super Misogyny Bros.

I’d been curious about Anita Sarkeesian’s Tropes vs. Women in Video Games series of videos for a while, but I didn’t get around to watching them until recently, after a few stories about the reactions to them showed up online. Based on these reactions, they’re apparently very controversial, and Sarkeesian wants to kill all men. Except, having watched them, I didn’t find them controversial at all. She’s a good presenter, and her opinions are all backed up by evidence. And she makes abundantly clear in the videos that they aren’t a dismissal of the entire medium, just of certain problematic elements. Even in my younger days, I noticed a definite tendency toward making female video game characters helpless.

Not in every game, certainly, but enough to constitute a trend. It’s a subject I looked at before, and I actually mentioned the “Ms. Male Character” trope without calling it that.

Even if you disagree with the crux of the argument, however, why does that lead people to lash out? Not only was a storm of sexism as directed at Sarkeesian, but some people even openly threatened her. I’m sure these idiots aren’t representative of gamers as a whole, but they’re so prevalent and so hateful that they’re hard to ignore. It reflects a larger trend that’s been bugging me, that of geek culture being permeated by bigots. I guess I was working from the assumptions that: 1) nerds should be smart, and 2) people who tend to be marginalized by society should be sympathetic to others who are. Unfortunately, a lot of the time, neither of these seem to be the case. I mean, not only were these trolls abusing Sarkeesian for being female, but also for being Jewish and a lesbian. I have no idea whether either of these is true, but why is it important? It’s way too common for someone to call any mean person a Nazi, but these were essentially the views of ACTUAL Nazis.

I think I was always aware that video games, comic books, role-playing games, and the like were mostly boys’ activities; but I doubt I considered that guys might be ACTIVELY discouraging girls from participating in them.

Apparently Sarkeesian is a fake gamer because she hasn’t played all of the games she talks about. Uh, yeah, I haven’t played all the games I blog about, either. In fact, it’s been months since I’ve even touched a video game, and even when I did play I was never that good at them, but I still consider myself a fan of the medium.

It seems to me that the common stereotype is that girls just aren’t interested in video games and other nerdy stuff. How many movies are there where lazy guys who play a lot have to suddenly mature in order to get girlfriends or raise children? It’s a negative stereotype of men because it portrays them as unwilling to accept responsibility, but it’s probably even worse to stereotype women as not only uninterested in anything fun themselves, but also trying to force men into giving up their hobbies. I feel that there’s a lot of pressure on girls who have reached a certain age to stop playing with toys and watching cartoons, and instead focus solely on relationships and families. It exists for boys as well, but hardly to the same degree. That’s why I’ve always been annoyed when people talk about women not having kids because they want to focus on their careers, as if their lives have to center around some sort of work. Maybe some women actually want to enjoy themselves occasionally, just like men do. So that’s part of it, I think, but that doesn’t explain why men would want to exclude women from their activities. You’d think they’d welcome women who share their interests, right? I know some guys are afraid of women, or blame all women because they can’t find girlfriends, but I still don’t fully understand. I guess these men don’t want to have discussions with women about common interests. Regardless of your personal opinions on the issue, however, what would you have to gain by insulting and threatening someone who disagrees with you? Are you really THAT defensive of the patriarchy? What has it done for you? I’d suspect a conspiracy, but I think it’s more just that they’re really dumb.

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13 Responses to Super Misogyny Bros.

  1. Joe says:

    Good article! I’d like to think those idiots are the dying remnant of our cultural patriarchy, but I’m not sure they won’t be replaced by the cultural patriarchy of others just joining this culture from other lands where the patriarchy still openly holds sway (unlike in the U.S., where it covertly holds sway). I’m also not sure if the haters are immature (dumb as you put it) or just evil individuals. If the former, I imagine some are actually young guys with big mouths, while others are older arrested adolescents filled with hatred and bile towards women (and potentially others). I also don’t know how they became part of the so-called “geek” subculture, except to note that this subculture has–for good and ill–become part of mainstream culture. And sadly there seems to be these kinds of vile cancerous people in every spectrum of society: rich, poor, right, left, religious, non-religious, mainstream, counterculture, etc.

    • Nathan says:

      I would imagine that it’s a mixture of the immature and the truly rotten, although I would think the latter would have better things to do than harass people making YouTube videos. It’s not much of a villainous scheme. And yes, the geek subculture is more mainstream these days, as is the Internet. There was a time within my life when a lot of these trolls probably wouldn’t have known how to use a computer.

  2. My daughter and I love to play computer games. I feel like the games in the ’80’s had poor technology and great vision. There were many open ended games, or games that tried to be. Lately, I find that most are about “You are this man who has this quest . . .” and less of the ‘pick your character w/no stupid back story.’

    Of course, I love the Morrowind series and Fallout because you have greater variety.

    • Nathan says:

      I really haven’t played that many recent games, but it does seem like dark and edgy is the way most developers are going. There’s not necessarily anything wrong with this, but it isn’t so much my thing. As for back story, the older games often had fairly convoluted ones in the manuals that didn’t impact the gameplay at all.

  3. When I sat down with my Nook last night to catch up on my blog reading, I read this and your two posts before this, and then read this post at GeekMom: “Blaming the ‘Other'” –which addresses questions you pose in every one of those posts. Read it! Of course she talks most directly about Sarkeesian so it goes here the most. She’s surprisingly sympathetic toward the trolls– not condoning them, mind you, but trying to figure them out. She thinks a lot of it may be people whose identities are so tied up in these games or in being the kind of geek THEY are that they kind of lose their minds about criticism toward games or game culture, taking it as a personal attack, and lashing out in kind.

    You would THINK that people who’ve been outcast would bind together and be welcoming of each other, but being an outcast doesn’t necessarily make you a good person. Some of those people are jerks who don’t understand the Golden Rule (No, “Do unto others as others DO to you” is NOT how it goes!)

    And oh boy, that stupid insistence that women aren’t allowed to have hobbies. SO. MUCH. IRE. I. HAVE. But the insistence that video games and such are “immature” hobbies and it’s perfectly okay to be into sports is stupid, too. Anyhoo. I have to respond to your other recent posts too but now the family needs lunch. See? I can make my family lunch AND pursue my blog-reading hobby, just in their own times!

    • Nathan says:

      Thanks for recommending that post. I think you’re right about many people taking criticism of something you love as a personal attack, even when it’s totally not. I’ve had that reaction in the past, if obviously not to anywhere near the same extent. I wonder if this is one case where being unsure of yourself can actually be a good thing. I totally understand getting defensive when being accused of having racist or sexist attitudes. I mean, I’m certainly not either of those things consciously. But when you self-examine and think about whether the accuser has a point (which sometimes they do and sometimes they don’t), it can help both you AND them.

      • I know it took ME a long time to figure out the concept of “white privilege”– that it wasn’t some accusation that I had no right to complain about my troubles. I don’t think I really understood that one until the Ferguson thing. Which, speaking of the comments about Loyalists on the other post, drives me crazy how many conservatives freak out about living in a “police state,” and yet when evidence surfaces of people in America ACTUALLY living in a police state, so many of them took the side of the police. The HECK?!

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