It’s hard to discuss feminism and racism with nerds for several reasons – the main one being that in their world there is no such thing. What we can discuss here however is what offends us minority and non-male gamers when we come across it in our favorite pastime. The little things that our friends within the majority (white, male and straight) don’t naturally see and will not understand if it is pointed out to them.
One of my constant arguments towards racism and sexism is that the privileged caste is really only capable of listening. If I say something and a gay friend of mine tells me it’s offensive, I don’t turn it into a 2 hour commentary of worthless arguing to see if he can convince me as to why it is offensive. Yet this is the general attitude that gamers and the internet culture have whenever someone screams offense.
Let’s try an example – if you are making out with your lover on the couch and you start probing somewhere and he/she exclaims “ouch that hurts” isn’t it your reaction to try and avoid doing it again? If you say no then you have a whole lot of other issues based on sociopathic tendencies that I can’t even speak to.
But the majority of you will say “yes” I would more than likely stop probing there and/or ask what did I do or where did I touch that hurt. But for some reason when it comes to cries of sexism, racism or just any kind of prejudice it turns into the oppression Olympics or the offender trying to derail the argument by throwing in comparisons to something else.
As we all know Anita Sarkeesian (a self-proclaimed) feminist had launched a project on Kickstarter.com called Tropes vs. Women in Video Games to support her filming a documentary about the shady characterization of female avatars in modern gaming. She originally asked for $6000 in donations but due to the movement going viral she made over $150,000. That’s a lot of clams.
Like it or hate it, her original intent was to use games as the medium to show what many women see as a problem. We know that games are made mostly for the majority (do I need to say who these are again?) so we have quite a number of games that cast women in a very colorful way. Is it my position to tell her that she has no right to film this because male characterization has been worse? No, it’s not.
But let the community over at Destructoid tell it; I read a post by Stephen Beirne over there and the commentary of over 250 opinions was enough to make me feel ashamed to call myself a gamer.
Guys we need to do so much better than this. Granted much of the commentary was due to what I would call hate for Anita making so large a number from her project; most of it dealt with the new-age racism of volleying back accusations and victim blaming.
Do we not understand that arguing in this way only furthers the point of the accuser while making the outsider even more cemented in their belief that gamers are a bunch of whiny, basement-dwelling boys whose only social outlet is the comment section of blogs and forums like 4Chan or Reddit?
How about we allow people to show their story and then argue it intelligently with a clear counter-point instead of hurling insults and tired volleys of “graahhh well we have it just as bad too?”
Let’s keep it classy gentlemen, and stay above the belt with your counters. There is a distinct difference between being a voice of authority and being a drooling troglodyte on the internet; trust me it doesn’t take $150,000 to be either but I will bet that you will be better heard if you take the high road instead of screaming at one another in text.