I’m not sure if calling this article a response to what Anita Sarkeesian has put out so far would be accurate. Response carries a ton of connotations, which all scream rebuttal or opposing commentary. Responding to a Sarkeesian video in most cases means, trying to correct it. Being opposed to the Tropes vs Women series and putting your opposition into words – either as articles, comments or youtube videos – is like a sport.
The kickstarter campaign started on May 17, 2012. People are arguing against Anita, her content, her reasoning, her methods, her attitude, her background, her agenda, her choice of clothing, her make-up, her voice for one and a half year now. One and a half year of people trying to convince me, that Anita Sarkeesian does something wrong – sometimes wrong enough to please ignore her, sometimes wrong enough to please stop her and sometimes wrong enough to severely punish her…
..so far nothing made any sense. At all.
Everyone who was targeting her because they legitimately were concerned – everyone who articulated, that they needed to defend something against Sarkeesian’s youtube videos – was fighting windmills. The videos are not threatening creative freedom, or – God forbid! – threatening free speech. There is nothing ruining games or infringing on rights here. I checked and listened for one and a half year… Nothing.
And even those who did not even pretend to be fighting for a cause – those who just wanted to show off in a pointless intellectual exercise or just wanted to troll – even they failed horribly, committing fallacy over fallacy. Like someone wielding nun-chucks and making Bruce Lee noises, only to end up whacking their own crotch with it.
I will even go as far as to say that after one and a half year, I fail to see how Anita Sarkeesian and her output even present an issue worth debating anymore. Sure, you can disagree with how she does stuff and yes, you can still not be convinced by her videos or feel like you could do a better job… but the question if it is useful or harmful to have her put her content out? No, really, no issue here.
…except you somehow appreciate gender inequality of course. Then, someone putting information out in favor of gender equality is kind of an issue for you.
Okay, so response is not a term I’m comfortable with here. So what is this you are reading right now? Am I supporting Anita Sarkeesian? For one and a half year, I was reluctant to say so. But not anymore. Yes, I do. I think it’s awesome, necessary and much worthy of support.
What did Sarkeesian do to change my mind? Nothing. I just decided to no longer let the trolls push me into a corner.
And that’s the thing. That’s what that was. In actuality I was appreciating her contributions for a long time. Sure, I can point to stuff, I would do differently, minor complaints actually, stylistic differences. The discourse around Sarkeesian is toxic – it is made toxic by people spitting venom at her. There was so much talk about how much she does wrong – just wild assertions, often in conflict with each other – that it seemed uncritical, downright naive to not be skeptical yourself.
Public critics – like MovieBob or Jim Sterling – always felt the need to talk about her with caveats. They always felt the need to state – yeah, I do not agree with her totally – and so did I. I refused to just say something positive, without making clear, that there are negatives or that I expect negatives to defend against the sure to come accusations of falling for her tricks, being a white knight, not being critical. I was preemptively fending off expected accusations from people, who I already knew had no point. – expected accusations based on sexist ideas and privileged perspectives.
To add this kind of caveat to an endorsement of Tropes v Women often is the “no homo” of video game culture.
I’m not having that anymore. I’m no longer pretending to see an issue with people who fight for a cause that I share, when there is none. We need Sarkeesian and people like her. We need to make public discourse as supportive and safe for women who speak up as possible, and this takes commitment. Anita Sarkeesian takes a lot of beatings online, still she puts herself out there. She gets a ton of vile, threats and bullshit online, still she responds to selected messages.
It’s an incredible feat by Sarkeesian to not have become a proverbial martyr yet, and I regret that for one and a half year, I did not help to make that easier. ..for her and for any other woman, trying to add her voice.
So, here is a big heartfelt and caveat-free thank you, Anita, for what you do. Your videos are well researched, fun to watch, enlightening and have a much needed impact on our culture. Beyond that, the reactions you spawned by the apologists crowd, the obliviously privileged and the hostile internet denizens would have forced many people into silence. My deepest respect and thanks for your commitment and effort to push through.
I hope to be able to buy you a cup of coffee or beer or preferred drink in the near future.
P.S. if you haven’t seen the latest video yet, check it out on her site and consider sharing it around. I’m happy to find my work in the resources to the video, which actually is kind of a proud moment for me as an online media critic. So, sorry for this self-indulgent moment here. Kthnxbye.