Cult of the Turtle

Joe Tortuga's musing on life,tech and gaming

(Tropes vs Women) vs Internet Idiots

June 12, 2012

I like to think that I”m a reasonably empathetic person.  That I can usually see where someone else is coming from and why they are doing what they are doing.  It doesn’t stop me from thinking they are ill advised or making mistakes when they do those things, but I can usually get it.  I do have my blind spots, I admit, but they aren’t that common.

But there’s a whole class of people acting in a way I just can’t understand.  I can’t wrap my mind around what would make them do the thing they are doing, whether they are lying or actually hold the beliefs they espouse, I just can’t get it. It’s alien to me, in the strongest sense of the world: it’s beyond my comprehension.

Okay, that’s vague, so let’s be specific.  And some of this should be marked with a Trigger Warning, although I don’t intent to link directly to that material, what I’m liking to, does.

There’s a woman, named Anita Sarkeesian.  She does a video series called Feminist Frequency.  I find her work to be intelligent, enlightening and entertaining. The series generally looks at the portrayal of women in the popular culture: movies, tv shows, and video games.  She is putting together a series on Video Game Tropes and is Kickstarting it.  (I donated to the project last night, which I’d meant to do earlier, so this controversy helped me remember).

From the moment she started the Kickstarter, she’s been harassed by gamers. There are game forums where the are organizing ways to harass her.  These harassments follow the typical entitled stupid male gamer methods threatening her physically and all the ways in which Courtney Stanton details from her experiences. The Border House had short blog on it, linking to some of the longer pieces by Sarkeesian about what has happened to her.

I get that geeks love things, and they don’t always understand why people don’t love the things they love.  I don’t quite get the idea that things that are loved are above criticism.  Kat has often told me that I complain more about the stuff I love being imperfect than the stuff I dislike being awful.  It’s because I want the stuff I love to be better, and it’s almost there. The flaws stand out more in the awesomeness like an Uncanny Valley of near-perfection.

And I’m really jazzed to hear what Sarkeesian has to say about video game tropes. I’ve probably heard most of it, and it needs saying.  Sure, there are people that don’t want to hear it, but I don’t get the motivation to silence someone. I don’t understand what set of motivations and desires compels someone to act in the way these men are acting.

I can’t wrap my head around it.

So I’ll keep saying things, and doing things like supporting the voices who are speaking out.  Yes, Sarkeesian is still doing this despite all this harassment, and that makes her of remarkable character and strength.  The thing is, you shouldn’t need to have remarkable character and strength to say these things.  But evidently you do, and maybe one day I’ll understand why.