Gonna open up a can of worms here. It’s fine, they’re squishy. I like worms.
I’ve seen a lot of talk about Anita Sarkeesian and her Tropes vs. Women series. I watched a few. Some are on point, others I found her to be reaching just to make a point, and a few were her just beating the same point into the viewers heads time and again. I get she is a controversial topic in the game industry. She has received a lot of hate for her opinions, and in turn, have spurred countless other people to speak up in her support and share their own stories of being attacked online.
I mean, that’s good, right? Bringing attention to the negative aspects of our fandom in hopes of changing the behavior. People really shouldn’t be writing death threats, or rape threats to these women who talk about their feelings and encounters in the gaming industry, or posting peoples private information on forums for all to see. That’s really fucked up and should be more illegal than the police take it for.
But it’s also not unique to the gaming or cosplay industry. If I took to Twitter every time a person made a negative comment about me in a news article I wrote, no one would follow me because I’d just be whining every hour of every day because someone didn’t like that I wrote about President Obama. Seriously, try being a journalist in the every day news world and doing a neutral piece in which you mention Obama’s name - you see some of the worse racism since the Civil War. And on top of it, people often attack the journalist personally for even writing about the President at all! And it doesn’t stop there. I have been told I should be fired for the misuse of a word. I have been lambasted for doing stories on one charity and not the other. I have had men, *and* women, comment on articles with their screen names linking back to their public information, in which all manner of threats have occurred.
And only one time, in all the 15 years I have worked in news, or been involved in cosplay, have I ever felt my life was truly threatened. And that was by someone I knew. My ex. My abusive ex. Who took to the internet, as anonymous as he thought he could be, and stirred up trouble for me in both the cosplay world and my day job (as well as other things I’ll refrain from getting into, but my lawyer felt strongly enough about the situation to have my go out of town for awhile).
But all the anonymous threats? Even if (especially if) they are linked back to someones Facebook page and I can see who they are married to, photos of their kids, where they work, what band they saw? I don’t sweat that stuff. It’s just words on the Internet. Ugly, hateful and hurtful words. But we have the power to ignore those words. People always say “Don’t feed the trolls” I’ll one up you, just ignore them. Say what you want and don’t be afraid to say it. Of course, be diligent because there ARE crazies out there, and I’ve gotten my share of letters, phone calls and people even approaching me in public that was certainly on the stalker end of things. But I dealt with those privately and in a manner that would see results.
It’s become too easy to sick our friends and followers on people who troll us on the Internet (this goes to cosplayers, YouTube personalities, journalists). But what good does that do? People who post such inflammatory things are either legitimately crazy, or legitimately believe whatever line they are spewing, or simply trolls. Attacking them isn’t going to change anything. It will only empower them. Ignoring them really is the best way.
But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t stop talking about these issues. I just think some times, myself included, we get too wrapped up in details and the actual message, the one of unity, equality, that everyone should have a place to share and talk about their fandom, gets lost. I don’t think we need to stop having sexy female (or male) characters in video games. Sometimes a woman is going to be killed to further a plot line, and guess what, it isn’t a viscous attack on all women. (The Kyle Rayner refrigerator incident if you will. Major Force killed the person closest to Kyle to make a point. He didn’t wantonly kill her because she was just a woman. It broke Kyle. It was a major plot point to drive that character forward, and it was because how much he loved his girlfriend and having her so brutally murdered caused him to do what he did next in the story line.) But just the same, sometimes women are subjugated in popular media for the sake of empowering the men behind it. Just as sexual slavery exists all across our modern world. It’s going to take a lot more than getting upset at trolls and crazies online to change the core problems here. And maybe, just maybe, we should do more proactive work within the industries (and to a further extent, the world) where we want to make actual changes, than just harp on the little details all the time.
I’ve said this for years now - but if you want a stronger representation of women, people of color, disabled super heroes, and not your every day white man in media - go out and write, draw, create a comic, video game or film that depicts the hero you want to see! The only way we will start to see change is by making those changes ourselves.
Anyways, I may have expressed some unpopular opinions here. It’s a loaded subject. But I ask, please be respectful in the comments. Not everyone is going to agree with your point of view. Do me a favor and let’s keep things civil and prove that despite our differences in beliefs, we can find a way to come together and talk about the problems facing our community.