The first episode hit the tubes today, and be warned, it goes after some of gaming’s sacred crows. But, as Sarkeesian says: “Remember that it’s both possible and even necessary to simultaneously enjoy media while being critical of its more problematic or pernicious aspects.”
There’s a certain type of dude who believes that men deserve to have things like comic books or video games all to themselves. They think their nerd culture is sacred place that feminism can’t touch. A place free of those nagging womenfolk. A safe space to indulge in misogyny, free of repercussions.
But as they spew their anonymous hatred, in-game or online, they’re faced with the increasingly obvious fact that no, they don’t get gender dibs on entire facets of pop culture. Not only will women continue to engage with nerd culture and carve out their own niches, but they will also continue to criticize its many, many flaws. There are a lot of us, our concerns are valid, and we’re not going anywhere.
When given the option, in video games, I like to be bad.
The first thing I do when I start an Elder Scrolls game is seek out and join the Thieves’ Guild and the Dark Brotherhood assassins. I love nothing more than sneaking about, taking out honest, hard-working guards one by one, as I make my way to my target, and I never feel even the teensiest bit guilty about it.
The next morning, I get up, kiss my boyfriend goodbye and head off to work where I am a productive member of society who has no lingering desires to wreak violence or steal stuff.
So I get it. Being evil in game is fun and it doesn’t mean you’re a bad person in real life.
That said, the concept of having a female shock-collar wearing slave to use and abuse as you see fit in the recently released Star Wars: The Old Republic Sith Warrior is deeply unsettling.
Harris O’Malley has posted an excellent piece about male privilege in geek culture, women’s representation in gaming and all that good stuff over at Kotaku. If you’re into that kind of thing, it’s worth reading. If you’re not into that kind of thing, it’s definitely worth reading. So go read it, because I’m not going to summarize it here.
Instead, I want to draw your attention to one paragraph that summarizes the crux of the issue with every women-in-gaming conversation that has ever taken place, especially on the Internet.
In this case, the threat is that – ultimately – fandom won’t cater to guys almost to exclusion… that gays, lesbians, racial and religious minorities and (gasp!) women might start having a say in the way that games, comics, etc. will be created in the future. The strawmen that are regularly trotted out – that men are objectified as well, that it’s a convention of the genre, that women actually have more privileges than guys – are a distraction from the real issue: that the Privileged are worried that they won’t be as privileged in the near future if this threat isn’t stomped out. Hence the usual reactions: derailment, minimization and ultimately dismissing the topic all together.