EDIT: After seeing how terribly the internet has handled the Anita Sarkeesian 'controversy' I'm willing to go back and say that I may have been wrong. My intention was never to demonize her (youtube has done that enough already) but to point out some examples of female characters that do not hurt the feminist movement. I feel like my article has been counter-productive however, so I ask that it be taken with a grain of salt.
So I've watched some of FeministFrequency's videos on sexism in video games (and Lego, but that's a totally different story), and while I can understand some of what she's saying, she words them terribly, and gives little to no advice on changing them. Now, don't discredit me on my counter arguments just because of my gender, as I have a large group of friends (in which I'm the only male) and they have made the same points I am about to make, so let's get started.
First Point: Sexy=/=Sexist.
From what I've seen, nearly all of her "video games are sexist" arguments are based entirely on character design or other aesthetic details, these things however do not define a character, just like clothing choice does not define a person, and while there is a limit to what is acceptable in terms of a character's wardrobe (I don't want to see any more DOA Beach Volleyball level crap), there is absolutely nothing wrong with a little eye-candy. Let's take a look at Lara Croft for example, while she's known and often criticized for being rather top-heavy, you can't say she's not a good character. Lara has been shown to be fearless, witty, independent (but not opposed to help), and capable, as well as being a pretty face, just like Indiana Jones, in fact, one of my old friends (who, again, is a female) liked Tomb radier so much as a kid that she wanted to be an archeologist, she never said "oh look at her boobs, she's ruining society" she said "Wow! she's so cool, I wanna be like than when I grow up". Since Lara is a likable, moderately well-written character, she is not sexist, well, I should say she wasn't
sexist, from what I've seen of the new Tomb Raider game, they tried so hard to appeal to the feminists opposing her based on design, that they also ended up stripping her of everything likable, in order to make her more human. Basically my main point is objectification for sex appeal only is bad, but objectification/exaggeration in and of itself is not, nobody would like Superman if he was designed as a human doing normal human things, people like him because he's what people wish they could be like, it gives fans an escape from reality.
Also, this argument can be sexist in and of itself, as it is dangerously close to what many feminists are looked down upon for doing, by their own demographic, it's become known as "slut-shaming" and it basically tells women that if they show off a little skin, wear form-fitting clothes, like girly thing, or whatever, that they are ruining the female image, or rather, their idea of what the female image should be. In my eyes, telling women that they aren't allowed to be proud of their body is just as bad as telling women that they have to look a certain way, and can potentially kill self-esteem in an instant.
Second point: Ignoring the good, inflating the bad.
Although Anita has once stated that if she made a certain amount of money she would make a video regarding some good examples of strong women in gaming, she has never done so, and I severely doubt she ever will. As such, I will list off some games where women are written well and not just sex appeal, and then some specific examples.
Metal gear solid, Beyond Good and Evil, Final Fantasy 13, Tomb Raider 1-3, Half-Life 2, Portal, Touhou, Metroid Fusion, Skullgirls, and these are only a few of many. Anita's fans may be surprised and appalled that I included "Skullgirls" in that list, but if you've ever played the game's multiple stories, you'd know that the characters are all given well-written backstories, and interact naturally with the rest of the cast, in fact, Painwheel, Filia, and Peacock are some of the only fighting game characters that I've ever had an emotional attachment to, something I could never say about Ryu or Sub-Zero, and everyone in my group of friends loves the game as much as I do.
As for some specific well-written characters, there's Maryl from the metal gear solid series, who's been able to hold her own in multiple wars and countless enemy encounters, and even rejects her husband's initial proposal, just so she could propose herself. Then there's Jade from Beyond good and evil, a very relatable character who can almost even serve as role-model material, something that cannot be said for nearly any video game lead, regardless of gender. There's Alyx from Half-life 2, the most likable assistant character in the game, and one of the few npc's that have ever been helpful. There's Elena from Uncharted, who's sarcasm actually had me laughing just as much as Sully or Drake. And how about a character with no sex appeal, but is so likable that many people, including myself, consider her the most well-written video game antagonist of all time, Mother. Flipping. GlaDOS.
Third Point: You've been swindled
If you pay attention to FeministFrequency's kickstarter promo video, you can clearly see that she already has everything she needs for a review, she has an HD camera, every game console, various sets, stage lights, microphones, and her own frigging studio, so why does she need more money? She said she was going to buy games for research, but no amount of games costs 100,000 dollars, especially if you just rent them to see their content. But through clever use of manipulation of her peers and pandering to her demographic, she was able to raise more money in a few weeks than most of America makes in a year, all for something she could do for free, if she really wanted to make a difference, she would donate some of the money to charities that help domestic violence victims or something, not stuff it all in a bank somewhere and talk about how much culture hates women. So to all her supporters, you've been duped, plain and simple, and I'm sorry.
So I'll just say this in closing; design doesn't make a character, good writing makes a character, and as such, design doesn't make a character sexist, bad writing makes a character sexist. read