Anita and the culture of shaming that shields Her
A petition involving a well-known developer and Anita Sarkeesian began floating around the internet a few days ago. It was apparently about having Anita ousted from her role as an advisor on the development team that is currently working on ‘Mirrors Edge 2.’ “Alright,” I thought to myself. “What is she doing being an advisor on a videogame?” I decided to sign the petition. What I did not realize was that site would then post that link to my personal facebook. It wasn’t until I received my first comment that I realized what had happened.
“Ugh,” was the very first comment from a friend of mine, another person who has been well involved in covering the gaming industry. I remained silently amused and even contemplated removing the link because I didn’t want it to cause unnecessary drama. However, I went against my better judgment and allowed the post to stay up.
It wasn’t long before I received my first reproach, being sternly told about the good that Anita’s videos have done and how her videos had gotten a lot better since her first few. “Ok, fair enough,” I thought to myself. I went ahead and typed my response, detailing why I couldn’t get behind the idea of Anita working on videogames:
Nah, I can’t stand behind someone who tries to pass off opinion as fact, refuses to be open to discussion (there have been plenty of credible individuals who have plenty of counter arguments to her videos) and tries to pass off the actions of a few crazies as the representation of an entire diverse demographic of people, and play up the idea that all people who play games and happen to be against her rhetoric, are angry white men/boys/basement dwellers. The last time I checked, I’m neither of those things but the way Anita and people who follow her talk, you’d think that anyone that picks up a controller is basically just as she describes.
However you feel about Sarkeesian is moot to me. She isn’t the correct path to change, she’s the antithesis of it. The only way to even begin any kind of dialogue is the willingness to hear out both sides of an argument.
What Anita and her ilk have done is promote the silencing of any opposition by painting them under one broad brush and that’s far from fair and I don’t want someone like that to have anything to do with the games I play.
One line of the response I received was:
“That’s a shame. Even detestable people can sometimes have a valuable, unique point of view”
For some reason this struck a nerve with me. It seems to be the go-to thing to try and shame a person for not agreeing with Anita by automatically placing them with those who have proven themselves to be detestable. The culture of shaming anyone that doesn’t align themselves with Sarkeesian or her rhetoric is a clear sign of how close minded people on the other end have become.
Something I’ve often noticed is the willingness to shame anyone that doesn’t agree with Ms. Sarkeesian or any of the issues that she speaks of. While we know that disagreement is a common aspect in society, the problem becomes apparent when you’re not just disagreed with, but you’re shamed for disagreeing.
I felt like talking about this topic because I’ve noticed the ease of which people will dismiss you, especially if you happen to be on the other side of the Anita Sarkeesian/GamerGate argument and you’re not a woman-hating bastard.
Now let me get one thing straight. By “Other side,” I don’t include the sexists, the woman haters and those who argue in bad faith. I mean people who have valid critiques of Anita Sarkeesian and others like her. What I noticed from my petition post was the willingness of the people arguing for Anita to not even bother to ask what my own opinion on her were. Instead my post was met with “ugh” and Feminist Frequency videos. Not once was I asked, “Well why are you against Anita? Is there any particular reason why you don’t want her working on Mirrors Edge 2?” These questions weren’t even asked until I pointed out the fact that they were willing to automatically go in on the attack before even knowing what my reasoning was.
(Before I go further, I’d like to clarify my use of “status quo,” in reference to people like Anita and sites like Polygon)
This needs to stop, we’re seeing a culture of shame were you’re not allowed to speak in opposition of the status quo. People are too willing and eager to throw you into a camp with the rest of the “extremists” and throw away the key. Is that how progress in video games should be made? “Oh you don’t agree with Anita has to say? Well instead of asking you why you don’t, I’m going to assume that you’re one of the many extremists that just doesn’t want to hear what a woman has to say and therefore your opinion is now invalidated because of my assumption.” People are willing to do this instead of hearing one another out.
Both sides do this
Which prompted me to write this piece. I’ve steadily noticed the increased readiness for people to throw aside others thoughts and opinions. Like I said before, this a is a common thing in the real world, it happens, but when you’re trying to start a discussion on something like gender representation in videogames, how much better are you if you’re telling someone that happens to not agree with you to basically shut and be quiet?
It has become OK to excise, vilify and attack anyone that might disagree with the opinions of the status quo. Here in lies the problem: How can one expect any kind of discussion or progress, especially on one so polarizing as a gender discussion? Disagreement is one thing, but to shout one side down because you’ve automatically assumed that the reason they stand against you is because they hate women or they’re angry misogynistic bullies isn’t entirely fair. It’s the equivalent of those “Misogynistic bullies” who call anyone who talks about gender issues a “feminazi” or “white knight.” More often than not you’re going to hear about the misogynistic bullies before you hear about the abuse that those who have their own logical arguments receive from the “status quo.” What does this mean for a man or woman who wants to argue their point? You either throw up your hands, or forge ahead to make your point clear to those who want to throw you in with the Gamergate/anti women-in-games crowd and hope that those you are having the discussion with are at least open minded enough to hear you out.