Why I Actually Watched Anita Sarkeesian's Newest Video... And Liked It

Anita Sarkeesian may be wrapped and stuffed with drama, but she makes some decent points in her latest video.

Warning: The above video contains a ton of spoilers for a ton of games. She has listed these games in the information for her video, linked above.

I could write a short novel on the drama that is Anita Sarkeesian's Kickstarter project: Tropes vs. Women in Video Games.

No, really. You could. Between all the trolling, the hate, the victim-hood and the money, it's a hot mess.

Need a run down on what exactly I'm talking about? Check out her Wiki (don't worry; it's been updated with accurate information and no longer talks about murdering her and her children).

For those of us who actually understand how analysis works, this video is pretty interesting and brings up several good points that are worth exploring. Though the actual analysis doesn't start until around 18 minutes in, Sarkeesian covers an impressive array of games which use the Damsel in Distress device and the Woman in the Refrigerator. Or mixtures thereof.

I don't necessarily agree with everything said in the video (the part where she mentions Dead Space severely ruffled my feathers, but that's because that game is my baby), but it will absolutely encourage me to think about the games I purchase and play.

Considered an extremist at times, Sarkeesian has taken the time to actually improve on herself in this video, addressing not only the problem with portraying women as powerless, but bringing attention to way this can affect male players. She also disclaims in the beginning of the video that just because she's critical of video games doesn't mean she doesn't like them or enjoy playing them. Game developers aren't sitting there thinking of awful ways to write women into stories--most of the time, their messages are just not very well thought out.

Alright, so why does the Internet hate her?

The Internet hates everyone.

Honestly? There are people who can reasonably discuss why they don't agree with Sarkeesian. They can sit down, watch her video without giving themselves an aneurism via rage, and list out the fallacies in her arguments. That's the point of discussion--reaching a solution through the analysis of multiple parties.

As for the other breeds?

You're touching my games and I don't like it

Personally, I think it's this. After reading the /r/games thread on her newest video, it seems to me that people are upset that Sarkeesian is taking the time out of her day to pick on the things they like.

Think about it. Her mentioning of Dead Space ruffled my feathers. Why? Because I liked it. It was a game I enjoyed playing, and I don't like when people pick on things I like.

The hatred for Anita Sarkeesian sparks from her going against the grain and dismissing the hive mind. She's critical of things that people enjoy, and no one likes it. Nevermind that they could learn something from it. She definitely doesn't enjoy playing video games too. She hates fun.

At its core, I believe that it's also a case of the 'hardcore' gamer vs. the casual. Anita isn't viewed as a hardcore gamer, and that works against her. Many believe that the fact she hasn't played games her whole life discredits her--no matter how educated or insightful she is. Her Master's Degree in Social and Political Thought from York University means... little to nothing, obviously. No way she has any idea what she's talking about.

Let's Grow Up A Little

My challenge for you today is to watch this video, and in the comments, discuss why you disagree or like the things she says. Like adults. You know, who can discuss things without calling each other sluts and whores.

Yeah, I Mean Girls'd you. Sorry.

Former Staff Editor

whale biologist.

Published May. 29th 2013
  • G Martinez
    There's been proof some of her videos are just stolen videos from other Youtubers. I honestly don't beleive she actually games but is using the gaming world to her own vices. I am positive in the long run it will show she is only doing all this to tug at heart strings and work peoples wallets. The fact is anytime a girl puts the controller in her hand and takes a picture you can believe the attention storm is coming. Also, to complain about misandry in video games when your not making them in the first place? Really? Anyone hear of indie developers? Developers should be able to make whatever they want. Why should they have to cater to anyone but their own inspirations. If the gaming world is really that bad then why haven't more people stepped in to make their own games. I don't why people feel so compelled to push their aspirations on someone else's creation. Far too often games with amazing female characters are forgotten already Golden Axe, Metroid, Mirrors Edge, and tons more. Is this really about righting or wrong, or just finding things to complain about for attention?
  • Jacob Listerud
    A lot of the things she said in the video were just... misandric. They seem to give off this notion of Anita thinking that men are bullies who just want to have dominance over women and it's just... wrong. And I disagree with everything Max Jay says and I just think he should stop seeing things in black and white and just grow up. I really feel disquieted by just how sexist her comments are. It's just... no. Just, no!
  • Will_2617
    Honestly, I refuse to watch the video, not because I don't like her, but because of her refusal to take any public debate. Obviously, she can't do anything about it on twitter, but the way she silences everyone on YouTube....I mean, I understand that there'll be THOSE people in the comments, and LOTS of them, but I'd truly just like to be able to state my opinion in the comments, rather than having to find some way around it, and attempt to convey my opinion in the limit amount of space a tweet has. I'd be happy to hear her opinion if she'd be happy to hear mine.
  • Jacob Listerud
    I don't think anybody should watch any of her videos, and I see no merit in listening to this misandric troll and her misandric hate speech.
  • Chaosmaker_9037
    "Many believe that the fact she hasn't played games her whole life discredits her--no matter how educated or insightful she is. Her Master's Degree in Social and Political Thought from York University means... little to nothing, obviously. No way she has any idea what she's talking about."

    Her Master's Degree in Social and Political Thought means precisely that she is an ideologue with a mission. She has zero experience of being a gamer. How many games did she buy in her life, and how many only after researching her thesis? She enters a community as an outsider with the "authority" of her title. I have a Master's Degree in Information Technology and have been a gamer for more than 25 years (I am 34). I daresay I know the subject better than Anita does.

    What she's doing is no different than a Marxist educated in marxism examining the level of communist ideology in a children's show. Of course any mention of capitalism would offend such a marxist.
  • fred_8694
    An in-depth conversation about the problems of anita.
  • Xarael
    Frankly, I don't see her analysis as very impressive. It doesn't really get to any root cause. It simply says X trope does Y thing. For me, the reference to Deadspace I felt was pathetic on her part because the whole story is literally about a man who is fragile mentally and physically. So, yeah the thought of his GF being dead would be a common thread and one that would be constantly tugged at by the writers. It's not sexist or misogynistic. It's simply good story telling. Similarly, the use of Ico as another example. I don't know what to say other than wow. How do you get "evil patriarchy" out of a deliberately simple game? And then the Zelda and Mario franchises which were deliberately designed to be simple in story as the developer was trying to focus on game features. So, I can't say she has a good argument anywhere except for titillation in videogames (The Dead or Alive series for example).

    Beyond that, she misses the entire essence of games: mechanics. The story for the most part is a slick finish we see put on to hit us in the human feelings department. And yes, they'll use archtypes from bygone eras, but no that doesn't suggest they perpetuate the narrative that violence towards women is okay. She herself in the second video goes on to admit that the average gamer is probably smart enough to notice this and ignore it (otherwise she'd be in Jack Thompson territory).

    And tbh, it's not surprising she misses the essence of videogames as she learn to criticize other media which has next to zero equivalence to games or videogames. In general, she should go back and revise/edit her series with this in mind. And most importantly, she needs to integrate a post-structuralist analysis to make this work imo otherwise she's coming off as a classic Marxist who hasn't been clued in on the Continental's work of the last fifty years.
  • dtor
    Googling the definition of insidious helps here:
    "1. Proceeding in a gradual, subtle way, but with harmful effects: "the insidious effects of stress".
    2.Treacherous; crafty: "an insidious alliance"."

    I had no problem with her use of it since I understood her to be using the first definition above. It requires no intentionality--something like a program of action can be insidious in its effects rather than intention.
  • CSLJames
    I have nothing against the project or the content within it, but I'm not sure she's the person to do it. I hate sourcing my information out to /v/, but here's a summation of one of the bigger viewpoints over there from a few months back.

    Disclaimer: I definitely don't take the same stance as every point made in the image.
  • Joseph Rowe
    Featured Columnist
    I am honestly surprised she posted the second video. There was such a long space between this and the first that I wondered if she just took the money and ran. I have to say, though, that I actually did enjoy this one.

    I feel like this one was a bit more insightful than her first on video games. That one felt like it was just way too basic, she got some information on the Star Fox game wrong, and it just felt kind of underwhelming.

    Furthermore, this felt a lot less sensationalist than most feminist discussions about video games that go on on the internet. Especially on certain unnamed gaming news sites.

    Like Max Jay pointed out, there was an element of sensationalism with her application of the word insidious, but ultimately, it was better than I expected. If she can maintain this level of quality in the rest of her series, I may end up just subscribing to her channel.
  • Katy Hollingsworth
    Former Staff Editor
    Some of her more interested followers were wondering the same thing. After doing a brief reddit search, some people were asking about it.

    I think she either a.) got enough backlash that she realized her original method wasn't effective, or b.) took some of the less threatening criticism to heart and worked on improving.

    Seriously though, I would really like to see her do a series on the alpha male stereotype that is so prevalent in games. Being that it's a core character mold in so many titles, it would be interesting to see that discussion happen.
  • TygerWDR
    Featured Contributor
    I had a long post here, I'll just tl/DR it.

    She's trollin'. Seriously, she's trollin'. Between the fake facepalming, the condescending voice, the literal looking down on me in the video, her script reading and choice of inflection.... yeah this video was designed to make somoene like me angry. She's trollin'.

    Why do I say this? She has a "media kit" on feministfrequency.com hyping herself up. There's also a page where she says "Want to bring me out to your school or organization to talk about feminist pop culture criticism, media literacy, online video production or video making workshops" This is a stepping stone. She wants to make a name for herself by going up to something bigger than herself, punching it in the nose, and then saying how unfair it is that they're mad at HER. She's attacking video gamers for her own ends while saying that she is the victim. How ironic.
  • Katy Hollingsworth
    Former Staff Editor
    That is a ton of bitterness towards a woman you've never met.

    I was reading through your previous post, and am glad you decided to go with this one instead. Tearing her down because of her looks really has no place in this discussion whatsoever.

    Her media kit and the offer to come talk to people about her ideas aren't new concepts, nor is it bad to want to "make a name for yourself." Showing people a different side of something is never a bad idea.

    She also isn't hyping herself up--several people and companies that aren't huge, booming entities offer media kits for articles just like this one.

    I can't point out a single instance in this video where she's attacking gamers. Can you give some examples?
  • JediSange
    Featured Contributor
    My issue with her rambles is that they are assumptive -- at best. She will say things like "pseudo empowerment". What is wrong with a strong male role? She's vilifying the male protagonist without providing sufficient reasons. More over, there exist weak male roles in video games. The main character would be incomplete without his cast of beta males to support him.

    She makes a point that this trope paints a picture of a helpless woman being somehow more appealing in a romantic or sexual way. First, we tear down the logical fallacy that it has to do with her being a woman. Any person, regardless of gender, can be held captive. If anything, it's more of a Florence Nightingale effect (or a derivation there of -- a savior falling for the one they're saving).

    But beyond that, there is a construct there of the male role in a relationship being the "stronger" of the two (physically, I mean). There is absolutely nothing wrong with this. Should we go around telling everyone that's how it is? No. But tradition exists for a reason. Simply put, it's to make us happy. If I find a woman who enjoys that dynamic, and I do as well, then there is nothing wrong with that.

    And then she goes on to say that your significant other dying is somehow a bad plot device. That's ridiculous. She is upset because that person is a woman. Who cares? Writers don't sit down and say, "You know, I want to kill some women to empower men today." Not even once.

    If your main character is a male, it's likely you didn't arrive there aimlessly. More plainly, you created that character because you wanted them to embody some characteristics, one of which being a male. That being said, regardless of the gender of the main character, that's a strong motivating factor.

    The video goes on in much the same fashion with fallacious, outlandish comments that vilify men and attempt to make me feel guilty for good story telling.
  • Katy Hollingsworth
    Former Staff Editor
    I don't think that she's vilifying anyone--she even states that developers aren't doing this on purpose and most of it just comes from thoughtlessness. I agree that characters have a hard time developing just on their own, and that supporting roles are helpful.

    The discussion, however, is about women. So there's no logical fallacy in her talking only about situations that occur when women are taken/held captive--especially since that's the focus of her series. It's also not Florence Nightingale, given that the male characters are usually already involved in some sort of emotional relationship with the woman in question. Plus, that sort of situation occurs when a caregiver falls in love with someone under their care. Not really relevant to any of the games she offers as examples.

    "Should we go around telling everyone that's how it is? No. But tradition exists for a reason. Simply put, it's to make us happy. If I find a woman who enjoys that dynamic, and I do as well, then there is nothing wrong with that."

    No, there's nothing wrong with two consenting parties enjoying certain gender roles. But not everyone enjoys these types of situations and they shouldn't be ignored, or exempt from the discussion. Reaching a solution should include inputs from multiple perspectives.

    I wouldn't say it's a bad plot device, because it's not. It's one of the oldest, however, and is, in my opinion, fairly overused. And honestly, she brings up a point that these roles are rarely ever reversed. I would love to see the industry change that up. Tomb Raider could have done something along those lines--Lara is trying to escape the island she's on, finds all of her friends/her boyfriend/whatever dead, and seeks revenge.


    As a side note, though, Tomb Raider did actually try something new with the Damsel in Distress situation by placing Lara's best friend in the hands of the villain while Lara got to do all the rescuing.


    "She is upset because that person is a woman. Who cares? Writers don't sit down and say, "You know, I want to kill some women to empower men today." Not even once."

    Again, she goes out of her way to say that game developers aren't doing this on purpose. And obviously she cares, or she wouldn't be making the series. Just because this topic isn't terribly important to some doesn't mean it isn't interesting to others.

    I agree that male characters aren't just arbitrary. I think she does too. Her problem doesn't appear to be with male characters taking the stage--I think she's more critical of how some games portray women when they take supporting roles, however unintentionally.

    I think all in all, you actually committed much the same fallacies you claim she has--you oversimplified her argument, made statements about things she never said, and ultimately took this and turned it into something very negative.

    I think you watched the video with the mindset that it was going to be stupid, and thus came away with much the same conclusion.
  • Max Jay
    Featured Columnist
    So I watched this, and she's not wrong. I've been saying that women are misrepresented in video games for ages, and anyone with a kernel of insight can see it.

    I do have a problem with how she's confronting this issue though: the best example of which is the repeated use of the word "insidious."

    She claims that these plot devices are used to elicit essentially false emotion, but she uses this word for the exact same reason. I feel like she's baiting people into feeling guilty about something that is beyond the control of the average consumer, which would force any community to feel defensive and react in a combative way.

    I don't have a problem with what she's saying, because it really is something that needs to be examined on many levels, however her method via Fox News level bias is not breeding the understanding I think she's seeking.
  • Katy Hollingsworth
    Former Staff Editor
    I feel like her word of the day was 'insidious'.

    It's strange that she uses this word then goes on to say that developers aren't doing these things on purpose.

    Pretty contradictory. But I do agree, she could have put things in a more developer/company focused light rather than trying to guilt the consumer.

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