A female friend recommended that i watch Damsels in Distress – Tropes vs Women in Video Games and now i’m suggesting it to you, especially if you’re a woman or a male…yep, i’m covering all bases and even more so to those of you that are parents or educators.
Funded by a Kickstarter campaign, presenter Anita Sarkeesian, a lover of gaming and women’s rights, criticizes women as icons of powerlessness, most often victims of kidnap and death spurring male characters to rescue or vengeance. It reduces women to plot motivators rather than plot heroes.
“Developers must hope that by exploiting sensationalized images of brutalized women it’ll be enough to fool games that their games are becoming more emotionally sophisticated. But the truth is that there is nothing mature about most of these stories. Many cross the line into blatant misogyny. What we’re really talking about here is violence against women…about women being victimized…or mercy killings…which i like to call the euthanized damsel…these damselled women are written so as to subordinate themselves to men…they submissively submit to their grisly fate and will often beg the player to perform violence on them, giving men direct control over them whether they live or die…even thanking them with their dying breath. These women, quite literally, are asking for it!”
More inventive plots and more actualized female characters are definitely needed and when it comes to new games that aim to shock (e.g. you are the rapist), it’s incredibly easy to side with Anita’s point of view. However, it’s important to realize all in the context of reality, especially that of our own lives and who we actually are rather than who we think we are.
I’m against violence against women but when it comes to games and movies i can often be blase because i, like most people, can differentiate between fantasy and reality. Conversely, there are undoubtedly those who cannot.
I’ve long believed that the most important part of who you are is in what you do. Thought never trumps action. I’m more interested in what a person does than whether they’re a man or a woman. Both can be good or evil. Nevertheless, once upon a time i propounded women’s rights more loudly until i realized that i was fighting with my mind rather than accepting with biology. I still firmly believe in equal rights but can open doors for ladies or fantasize their sexuality without ambiguity – sometimes we need to accept what is rather than what the media, ever in pursuit of topics of conflict for sales, tell us is wrong or right. Both my ‘gentlemanly’ door-opening and ‘tarzan’ lust are chauvinistic but ‘chauvinism’ isn’t necessarily a bad word, rather one that, like many others, has been twisted to suit an agenda that is falsely named ‘politically correct’.
Recently, i witnessed a waitress crying and although i held back, i felt urged to give the “damsel in distress” a long hug. Is that wrong? I’ve also met far too many women who act or enjoy the role as damsel in distress to treat it as anything but bizarrely normal for the masses. However, i most love the ones that stand out but brains without beauty is never as attractive as brains with beauty. These remain awkward facts only so long as we fight them.
The final irony may be in that in a video about video games, the presenter is articulate, thought provocative and damn pretty so that Anita Sarkeesian, in turn, becomes my attractive icon.
Truth can never be decided by the media, society at large or gaming. Truth is what you feel. Truth is what you do.
None of what i’ve said is meant to be dismissive of Damsels in Distress – Tropes vs Women in Video Games. Quite the contrary. It made me think. It reminded me to be conscious of my actions. Hopefully it’ll do the same for you.
PS: The reaction to these videos, and the enormous antagonism towards Anita may prove to be her winning argument – “The New York Times reported that she was e-mailed images of herself being raped by video game characters. Attempts were made to hack her Twitter and Google accounts, doctored images of her were posted online, negative comments were posted to her YouTube and Facebook pages, and an Internet game was created – Beat Up Anita Sarkeesian – where users could punch her image until the screen turned red. Her Wikipedia article was repeatedly vandalized with images of sex acts. Her website was subjected to denial-of-service attacks, and there were efforts to obtain and distribute her personal contact information. The people behind the campaign awarded each other “Internet points” for the abuse on forums; Sarkeesian argued that they had “gamified” misogyny.”