Thursday, 13 September 2012

I'm not a Feminist but... Ok, I'm totally a Feminist

Something wonderful was happening and I didn't even know it! Feminist Frequency has been funded to make a BOATLOAD of videos about female tropes in video games. If you haven't seen Anita Sarkeesian's series about general tropes of women in pop culture, you should got watch it right now!

Now, as with anything worth doing on the internet, trolls were involved. I'm not going to repeat anything the trolls have said here, but use your imagination. It's about 110% worse than that.

I'm excited to see what Anita can do with the money she raised. I'm thrilled that a feminist pop culture expert is able to devote herself 100% to making kickass feminist videos and I'm anxious to see where this takes feminism on YouTube and in videos games.

That said, I'm disappointed in this article from New Media Rockstars.

The first two paragraphs are informative and make some attempt at impartiality. The rest of the article is full of dismissive statements, unacknowledged privilege and veiled sexism.

"I emailed Anita in an attempt to get some clarity with this whole thing, but as of this story going to press, I have not heard from her. I guess she’s busy playing all those video games the Internet bought her."

This makes the reporter sound like one of the trolls he was keen to deride in the same article. Damn right she's busy playing the video games the internet bought her. How is Anita supposed to make a groundbreaking video about female tropes in video games without first hand experience? We need an authentic voice speaking to the good and bad qualities of women's portrayal in every aspect of media. Video games have long been vexing feminists and now that our generation has grown up gaming we need to engage in an ADULT conversions about what these female characters do to and for the rest of us, the same way we discuss how women are portrayed in movies, on television and in books.

I would love to know what Sarkeesian thinks of Lara Croft, the female protagonist of the hugely popular Tomb Raider series. Sure, she wears hot pants and has a bust-to-torso ratio that would make Barbie jealous, but she’s a strong, independent, woman with her own business (even if Tomb Raiding seems likely illegal) and no male figurehead upon whom she depends. Is that the feminist ideal?

No, Lara Croft is not a feminist ideal. Some aspects of her character are admirable but if you look at the whole Lara Croft package she was not written or designed to emulate real, relate-able, strong women. She would fall under the trope of "fighting f*&k toy" that Anita has listed as the topic for video #2. She is a one dimensional character with daddy issues who, while extremely tough, is there to be ogled and almost all of her interactions are with men, either helping or hindering her in her quest.

In my mind, women can have compelling story arcs and not just be background fodder or arm candy for the male character, and they can even look good doing it. But maybe I am just a sort-of troll myself — one who writes in longform?

At least you're a self-aware troll. That's an improvement.

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