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LONG BLOG

50 Shades of Gaming

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Sooo... it's been a long time since I've blogged, but I've been involved in a time consuming legal case that goes before the courts again in December and have also had several surgeries this year because my "in situ" cancer decided to become "invasive" cancer. Still, the cancer thing is under control, not terminal, and the surgeries simply mean more time to play video games while I'm recovering, and also more time to read. For the past few years, I've still being reading Destructoid, but have also been reading a lot of feminist blogs and articles.

I hope to maintain this blog as an ongoing examination of my own ever-changing thoughts on feminism, specifically as it related to gaming. I expect that nobody will agree with everything I've written here, but I do hope that anyone who does read this (all two of you) will take the time to further investigate feminism before reiterating much of the rhetoric out there. When you see an article about a study - read the actual study. When you disagree with a point someone makes, investigate - do further reading (and from various views, not from any one specific site or source). Again, this blog is mostly written for myself... to try to keep track of my changing views on feminism.

As Anita Sarkeesian is so fond of saying: " remember that it is both possible (and even necessary) to simultaneously enjoy media while also being critical of it’s more problematic or pernicious aspects" and if this is true, then we have a corresponding responsibility to simultaneously enjoy the benefits and positives of feminism, while still being critical of it's more problematic or pernicious aspects.

To start, quite some time ago Anita Sarkeesian wrote a piece for the New York Times entitled "It's Game Over for Gamers "where she stated " As others have recently suggested, the term “gamer” is no longer useful as an identity because games are for everyone." Apparently the word "gamer" was dead (or should die a painful death) according to several editorials on high profile gaming websites. Many mainstream articles on gaming portrayed games and gamers as misogynistic men who hate women based on interviews with Ms. Sarkeesian and other feminists. Even now, a year later, there are still articles stating "we're all gamers- embrace it".

In 2014, the word "feminist" made the Time Magazine list of words to ban... and at one point was winning with a resounding 45% of the vote before Time Magazine gave in to pressures to removed the word. There have been copious articles over the years suggesting that maybe "feminism" needs a new word or better public relations and one has only to google "feminism PR problem" to see copious articles on this topic in the last few years as the word "feminism" has increasingly become associated with many different opposing issues and philosophies.

Personally, I've come to the conclusion that the words "gamer" and "feminist" have many of the same issues.

1. "gamer" is no longer useful as an identity because games are for everyone. However, the exact same can, and should, be said about the word "feminist".

"Everyone is a gamer now", or more specifically (according to the ESA's 2014 report) 59% of Americans play video games, and about half of those gamers are women.

By that same token, "everyone is a feminist now". According to a fairly large 2014 Ipsos poll of 15 countries, 57% of women and 48% of men self-identify as "feminist" when it is defined as "someone who advocates and supports equal opportunities for women". When the self identification of "feminist" is removed, 87% of all respondents of both genders agree that women should be treated equally to men. Additionally "A majority (55%) of women in 15 developed countries agree they have full equality with men in their country and the freedom to reach their full dreams and aspirations." This is similar to many other surveys, including a large Huffpost/YouGov survey done in the US, and in a more recent Buzzfeed survey, 99% of respondents agreed that men and women should be equal, but again, a majority (67%) reject the identification of "feminist" and apparently 56% of respondents believe that the gender equality movement needs a new name. Other surveys (linked below) show that a vast majority support equality between men and women, but both men and women are rejecting self-identification as a "feminist" . While some smaller surveys of younger students show increased identification with the word "feminist", almost all larger surveys done on feminism show a trend that a vast majority of people support gender equality, but most don't want to call themselves a "feminist".

http://www.ipsos-na.com/news-polls/pressrelease.as...

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/16/feminism-...

http://www.buzzfeed.com/danieldalton/why-feminism-...

http://www.vox.com/2015/4/8/8372417/feminist-gende...

http://rhrealitycheck.org/article/2015/08/25/poll-americans-believe-womens-equality-dont-understand/

http://forwomen.org/poll

(though of course it should be noted that ALL surveys are somewhat suspect and a lot depends on the specific questions asked, so feel free to google the actual surveys for better information).

Essentially, most people (men and women in almost equal numbers) are feminists who believe in gender equality, but many also don't want to use the word "feminist" which is increasingly being associated with feminists who believe all women are oppressed by men within a patriarchy, rather than the dictionary definition of men and women being treated as equals. There is an ideological difference in the two definitions of feminism, where one treats women as an oppressed class of people under a system of power that privileges men, and the original definition treats all people as individuals and advocates for equality in our legal, cultural and economic frameworks. Many of the those in last years #womenagainstfeminism weren't actually against the concept of equality feminism, rather they were against the concept of being treated as an oppressed class of victims. Additionally, with the increasing visibility of those that don't conform to a gender binary (or those that are recognized in some countries as a "third gender) - it seems increasingly difficult to treat men and women as binary classes which forms the basis of patriarchal feminism, however feminist ideology continues to evolve and change and increasingly relies not on a model of men dominating women, but rather a newer class of cis-gendered heterosexual males dominating all other classes who become the victims within more recent forms of hierarchical intersecting levels of victims within this patriarchy. Many current feminists have swung so far to the left, that they have come full circle to the right and now are advocates against pornography, against violence, for censorship and for a division of men and women based on gender (safe spaces for women only, laws and policies specifically aimed at affirmative action in hiring of women, etc). There is no longer any pretense of treating men and women the same, but rather some Feminists state that women require special privileges and treatment to compensate for patriarchal power held by men. The varying ideologies and constant changes to the meanings of the word "feminism" seems to be a deterrent to the average person identifying with the term - beyond the simple definition of equal treatment and opportunity for all individuals.

Most people (men and women) play video games... on their iPhone, tablet, console, PC... whether it's Solitaire, Candy Crush or Call of Duty - and while there are no stats, it seems that few want to be associated with the basement dwelling, violent, misogynistic male geek title of "gamer" that many mainstream news articles speak about.

The words "feminist" and "gamer" seem to have PR issues and there is a lot of confusion as to the meaning of those words. While most people are now feminists who believe all people are equals, and most people are gamers who play some form of games... apparently few want to publicly identify as either a "gamer" or a "feminist" because of the various meanings, negativity and lack of clarity often associated with these words.


2. Neither gaming nor feminism are inclusive... both are exceptionally divisive within their own communities.

Many have argued that gamers aren't inclusive, and in particular Ms. Sarkeesian and others have noted that "hard core gamers" have attacked some interactive experiences as not being real games or have attacked "casual gamers" (largely comprised of women) as not being real gamers. These are not new issues. Anyone familiar with gaming will remember the controversy over whether "Linger in Shadows" was a game, and this continues with the arguments over whether many of the newer "interactive novels" or "walking simulators" are games. There are the very old issues of whether those who played Solitaire or Farmville on their computers could be considered "gamers" (and this demographic is largely female) or even whether gamers that only play the annual iterations of Call of Duty or Madden should be considered gamers. There have been issues of racism, sexism and homophobia discussed within gaming long before the current public trend of doing so, but these issues were previously specific to particular games and not applied to games or gaming as a whole. There has been discussion, dissension and exclusion in gaming and gaming communities, since the popularization of that Internet thing and the ability for people to express their thoughts and opinions.

This same exclusionary toxicity easily applies to feminism. There are many "hard core feminists" who have attacked Beyonce as not being a real feminist (or in the words of Annie Lenox "feminism lite", and in the words of Bell Hooks, part of Beyonce is an anti-feminist and a "terrorist"). More recently there is the "feminist or not a feminist?" ongoing arguments relating to the Nicki Minaj/Taylor Swift/Miley Cyrus trifecta. Those that hold different views on feminism are often labeled as "anti-feminist" or misogynist as is the case with Christina Hoff Sommers and Laura Kipnis. There are SWERFS and TERFS (Sex Worker Exclusionary Radical Feminists or Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists)" and like gaming, there are race issues in feminism with many feminists of color who claim that feminism only advocates for white women (#solidarityisforwhitewomen, womanism and the current issues surrounding "white feminism" and "colonial feminism"). Many feminists have been vocal in their beliefs that men can't be feminists, but can only be "feminist allies", and men are often excluded from feminist spaces/communities unless they act in a prescribed manner. In my recent forays into feminist spaces, I've seen many men outright banned, not for harassment, but over varying ideologies within feminism. One man was banned for advocating that gender isn't completely a social construct and that there are some biological/neurological differences between males and females (an ideology supported by some feminists who feel that drug testing on men may not ensure drug safety for women because of different biology). Even women are excluded from feminism with prominent feminists stating you can't be a feminist and vote Republican, or you can't be a feminist and be anti-abortion (despite the fact that surveys consistently show that support for or against abortion is not based on gender, and you certainly can't be a feminist and support any aspect of gamergate (In a recent discussion on a feminist article I stated that I support the aspect of gamergate that wants sex positive feminist views given more consideration within gaming journalism and I was outright accused of being a man pretending to be a woman! LOL!)

Like the gaming world, feminism is not at all "inclusive" but is instead of a world of varying and opposing ideas, often with public condemnation, silencing and banning of those who hold alternate views. There are many varying ideologies and philosophies in feminism. I won't bother linking articles, anyone familiar with the feminist blogosphere is well aware of the issues, heated wars and divisions within feminism where the credibility of many self-proclaimed feminists is constantly questioned by other self proclaim feminists and where the "feminist" credibility of anyone who lays claim to the word (like Beyonce ) is met with a barrage of articles that support or deny their entitlement to call themselves a "feminist.

Essentially, exclusion and dissension seems an obvious problem with both the words "gamer" and "feminist" and their accompanying communities. The communities on gaming sites tend to be male, but female voices are becoming more common and more visible. The communities on feminist sites are very female and while some sites allow for male voices, other sites seem to delete and silence many of the comments made by men. Gaming sites have always actively sought female representation on their staff (I've been a moderator on various gaming sites for since 2006), but feminist sites do not seem to seek male representation among their staff. In the game of exclusion, feminist sites stereotype and malign and silence men far more than gaming sites stereotype, silence or malign women.


3. Misogyny and Misandry (the name of my new band!)

A small vocal segment of gamers are misogynists and truly seem to hate women. A small vocal segment of feminists are misandrists who truly seem to hate men. One only has to look at Twitter to find examples of gamer misogyny, and one has only to read many feminist writers to find misandry. Misogyny and misandry are opposing, but small and vocal components of both "gamers" and "feminists"... but the reality is that most gamers are not misogynists and most feminists are not misandrists.

4.Fiction vs Real Life...

Feminists and Feminist groups have deemed the book/movie "50 Shades of Grey" to be a misogynistic, pornographic, exploitative glamorization of domestic abuse. Still, the book's popularity is consistent with the the popularity of reading "bodice ripper" romances and even today, the romance novel industry is still the most profitable genre of books sold (surpassing one billion in sales). This has been the case for many years now, with the primary creators and consumers being overwhelmingly female. Like many women, I've read romance novels and used to consume them quite regularly. They are fun, escapist, sexy light reading and are predictable where different sub-series actually have to conform to specific tropes, because tropes can be profitable, and are sometimes exactly what the consumer wants and expects (not unlike many video games) The romance novel industry is not unlike gaming... it generally caters to a gendered consumer using well known escapist, fictional tropes.

The popularity of media such as "50 Shades of Grey", "Twilight", "Game of Thrones" or the CSI/Law and Order weekly woman in peril with female consumers and the opposing feminist critiques against the fiction inherent in these works is the same argument that is happening within video games. Does fiction affect reality? Should these shows, books or movies be banned or changed because they portray violence against women or show women as sexual objects of heterosexual male desire and have an impact on real world actions?

Gamers have been here before. To date, no studies have consistently shown any correlation between violence in video games and violence in real life. The other reality that is difficult to correlate, is the basic fact that violent crime rates have been dropping quite dramatically, concurrent with the rise of violent media. Other large sociological studies also surprisingly show that increased pornography consumption (countries that have relaxed laws on pornography) either corresponds to a decrease in sexual crimes or has no impact. Again, as with all studies, there are difficulties in determining whether there is a causative effect or whether other factors such as increased incarceration rates are causative, but the overall trends in violent crime (including sex crimes) indicate that we (in the western world anyway) have never lived in safer times. (Though it should also be noted that after many laws were changed to redefine rape from a forcible act to an act performed without active consent, the rates of rape have increased, but conviction rates remain relatively low due to difficulties inherent in proving that no consent was given, particularly given the caveat that actions do not denote consent). Feminism is still divided on this issue as is pointed out in the recent Cyber Violence against Women and Girls report created for the UN by Anita Sarkeesian, Zoe Quinn and many others. Within the report (pg 8) the report states that "studies show that after viewing pornography men are more likely to: report decreased empathy for rape victims; have increasingly aggressive behavioral tendencies; report believing that a woman who dresses provocatively deserves to be raped; report anger at women who flirt but then refuse to have sex; report decreased sexual interest in their girlfriends or wives; report increased interest in coercing partners into unwanted sex acts" and yet further in the report (pg 46) they suggest "Feminist Principles of the Internet" as a holistic framework that should be adopted. The Feminist Principles specifically include under item 14 " We reject simple causal linkages made between consumption of pornographic content and violence against women." Feminism itself continues to be very divided regarding the topic of whether pornography has any impact on violence against women.

Reading Links:

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/17/upshot/perceptions-havent-caught-up-to-decline-in-crime.html?_r=0&abt=0002&abg=1

http://thesocietypages.org/papers/crime-drop/

http://www.forbes.com/sites/erikkain/2012/04/19/as-video-game-sales-climb-year-over-year-violent-crime-continues-to-fall/

https://mises.org/library/sex-violence-and-culture-war - yeah, this culture war has been going on for MANY years now.

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-sunny-side-of-smut/

I don't personally believe that violent video games create violent people, nor do I believe that sexist video games create sexist people. Once again, I have to go to my rat story. I've killed thousands of rats in the video games (the ubiquitous killing of rats with my rusty sword in most every WRPG game). Several years ago one of my cats caught a rat and mangled it's back legs but didn't kill it... and the "kind" thing to do was put the poor rat out of it's misery. It was one of the most difficult things I've ever had to do and no video game "rat killing sim" helped me in this real world situation.

Fiction, be it books, movies, TV or video games should be a realm where fantasies are free to exist. While there will always be a reflection in a mirror of our ever changing cultural norms, freedom of the imagination should be allowed free rein. In gaming, while the expensive AAA games are products created for mass appeal and profitability, there are hundreds of thousands of smaller games available for almost every niche demographic. Mods and development tools allow for user creativity. Changes to an ever evolving consumer demographic create gradual changes in the products, including the larger AAA game market. To stifle creativity through public shaming, educational "re-training", adherence to western feminist philosophical values, restrictive ratings or even new laws to protect women against any form of sexualization in media is to create propaganda, not art. While public pressure might initially be to remove women as a sexual object for male characters to "acquire" in video games... it might not be long before games created by women, for women are also publicly shamed for having a selection of male romance objects from which a woman can choose (Otome games and games such as Everlove are gaining traction with female consumers). Books, movies and video games created by female content creators could just as easily become a target, and artists such as Anna Anthropy, whose games often explore BDSM and lesbian themes could eventually be deemed as having "violence against women" content.

As a final thought on the issue of fiction and it's possible effects on real life, one of the aspects of this discussion missing in current culture is the effect of fiction on women. Almost all criticism of fiction has been regarding it's effect on men and how they might view women, but there is much less discussion on the effects of fiction on women - the views of ourselves, other women and of men. Entire industries are based on the power of female sexuality for female consumers (beauty magazines, fashion, romance novels/movies) or alternatively many cultures or religions attempt to cover up and ban our sexuality entirely (some Muslim Countries, ultra Orthodox Jewish groups, etc). Women have long dealt with the madonna/whore complex, and current feminism exacerbates this issue by regulating what women should or should not wear - in real life and the digital world. They do this based on the concept that what we wear influences male attitudes toward women, but negate our own concept of choice. Current feminist gaming rhetoric does not want choice for women, but instead entirely focuses on how attire choices might affect men. Simply put, it seems much safer for sex-negative feminists to attack heterosexual male interest in females, rather than examine women's complicity in creating the concept of women as object. Feminist Frequency's entire video series views women from a male perspective, as an object, and rarely views game content from a female perspective. In effect, they actually perpetuate a male gaze, based on a stereotype of cis-heterosexual men, rather than from a female viewpoint, and the effects of the female characters on women. I, personally, find it empowering that within a game world I am treated the same whether I am wearing heavy armour or a chainmail bikini.

I have no conclusions on this section yet, I still have muddled thoughts but am opposed to conservative feminist views that women should be covered up and non-sexual. I also think that if we are trying to usurp stereotypes of women as caregivers, emotional, not career-driven, etc.... then we also have to be careful that we are not continuing to stereotype men as workaholics, uncaring, violent and as potential rapists and murderers.


7. Harassment.

Much has been said and written about the harassment endured by feminists who have negatively critiqued the gaming industry. It is notable that feminists who have supported the gaming industry have not been harassed by gamers, so I do think it fair to say that possibly much of the harassment is not specifically gender based, but rather is based on perceived attacks on the industry, particularly when the mainstream media has run with adversarial headlines such as:

Anita Sarkeesian on GamerGate: 'We Have a Problem and We're Going to Fix This' (Rolling Stone)

No More Helpless Damsels, One Gamer's War on Sexism (Wired)

Taking on Games that Demean Women (Boston Globe)

Gamergate is Loud, Dangerous and a Last Grasp at Cultural Dominace by Angry White Men (The Guardian)

Woman vs Internet: How Anita Sarkeesian beat trolls (GamesIndustry International)

Communities defend their own... and while gamers may sometimes seem extreme in defense of their hobby in the face of those who denigrate gaming and gamers as juvenile, violent and misogynist... it's not a lot different than how feminists defend their ideology in the face of MRA's (Men's Rights Activists) who often denigrate feminists as misandrist heterophobes (and in fact much of the harassment that went both ways in #gamergate seemed to be by MRA's and feminists... some of which were gamers, and many of which were not).

Harassment is not just aimed AT feminists, it is also perpetuated BY feminists as has been seen with the mob-like mentality with Dr. Tim Hunt and Dr. Matt Taylor where the feminist culture police and their outraged media headlines ruined careers out of any proportion to the "crimes" that may have been committed. Feminism's own "toxic twitter wars" continue to this day and has gotten worse over time. Internet harassment is a legitimate issue, and the various studies do indicate that the form of harassment females endure from men tends more toward sexualized or gendered language and threats, however this is not an issue specific to gaming.

The form of the harassment is different for women, however the effects on people's lives, both male and female - is something that changing laws and changing technology will have to address. There are currently several lawsuits that will further explore the ramifications of Internet harassment and gradual changes are being made on social platforms to address this issue, but the difficulty lies in mob based harassment, where the masses of people on the Internet become visible when someone does something that a large number of people don't agree with - whether it's hunting and killing a lion... or advocating a gender divisive "war" on gamers and games to change the media. Treating harassment entirely as a feminist issue will never solve harassment because the problem is much larger than this and needs to be treated holistically as a problem affecting "people" . Everyone should be entitled to protections offered by laws, new technologies, responsible journalism and policy changes.... without calls for censorship, otherwise we become no different than dictatorships that silence all forms of dissent or freedom of expression. By treating Internet harassment as a feminist issue only affecting women, we limit the ability solve the greater issue of people harassing people. As Anita Sarkeesian once said in her "what I couldn't say" speech, she desired the ability to freely say "fuck you" to her harassers and critics. Essentially, this is exactly what her harassers and critics are saying to her, though often in more callous terms. What we need is the ability to balance people's freedom of speech with technological abilities to filter this freedom when it becomes overwhelming, and laws for when "fuck you" turns into an actual legitimate threat. The the recent discussion of the UN Cyber Violence Against Women and Girls, Ms. Sarkeesian speaks at approximately 1:30:00 and actually classifies the day to day grind of "you suck", "you're a liar" and "hate" videos as harassment, which becomes very dangerous because essentially it classes large scale disagreement with statements from public figures as being something that needs to be prevented and puts herself in the same class as people such as Donald Trump, who have also suffered from copious "you suck" articles, tweets and videos. It establishes that large scale disagreement should not be tolerated and should be viewed as harassment, particularly when she adds that women should be able to participate on the Internet "without fear of intimidation" which again is phrase very open to interpretation

Again, to quote from the UN Broadband commission report: "Free speech requires constant vigilance – by everyone who uses the Internet." and interestingly I think that Zoe Quinn is more on the right track with creating personal tools for people to better maintain their own privacy/blocking options, and in advocating for better privacy options on the internet (rather than the reliance on the use of "real names"). Ms. Sarkeesian seems somewhat blinded by her gamergate experience and her focus on cultural change (particularly given her previously expressed anti-violence and anti-pornography stances) seemed somewhat irrelevant and simplistic to the overall discussion. Various cartoons have boiled her contributions down to the "there are people on the Internet who disagree with women, they shouldn't be allowed to do that" meme.... and very unfortunately, this meme expresses most of what Ms. Sarkeesian said.

Free speech does require vigilance... to ensure that free speech remains an integral part of the Internet. Censorship, moderation or silencing have never been effective catalysts of cultural change, but rather are the tools of dictatorships.

8. We've been here before.

In both gaming and feminism we've done this already. Feminism had the "feminist sex wars" of the early 70's that pitted anti-pornography feminists against "sex positive" feminists. Nobody won and that war continues (which seems a viable reason why Feminist Frequency has yet to do their "Fighting F*cktoy" video). Gamers, we had Jack Thompson advocating that violent video games directly caused violent actions in the real world... and it continues with new claims that games not only cause violence, but also sexism and violence specifically against women. These cyclical arguments have been going on in both feminism and media for a long, long time now. Concurrent with the old arguments as to whether our media impacts on society, are the left vs right arguments which are reaching a fever pitch with elections upcoming in both Canada and the U.S. In many cases, the left and right seem to come full circle so that it becomes difficult to tell the difference. Again, we've been here before and we'll be here again because anti-sex, anti-violence advocates believe in a zero sum game. They have always believed that sex and violence in our media harms our society and needs to be regulated in some manner (pressure on artists to conform via public shaming, news articles, cancellation of talks/performances, moderation, and even an AO rating for "Hatred" which turned out to be a far less violent game than others with lesser ratings). On the other side are advocates for absolute freedom of legal expression and that artists should be free to produce whatever work they want to produce and that the consumer should determine it's value via the capitalist marketplace without regulatory interference or public shaming. This isn't a gaming issue and gaming was simply one of the more recent battlegrounds for a war that is extending into comics, TV, movies, books (the Hugo awards fiasco), comedy, politics, journalism and pretty much all forms of media. Past battlegrounds included Elvis and rock music, cartoon violence, rap music... again, we've been here before, and we'll likely be here again because a desire to censor seems part of the human condition, despite the fact that censorship pressures often get turned around to eventually harm the very people advocating for them.


9. Financial Feminism.

Games are primarily a consumer product. In particular, AAA games are created to make a profit in order to ensure employee wages are paid, that shareholders continue to financially support the company. Feminism too is quickly becoming a financial product. Many feminists make their living by being feminists - producing feminist media (articles, web series, games, movies, comics, etc), doing consulting work, acquiring funds to produce their feminist media from donations, governments or private sector companies that want to be seen as progressive. Many feminist organizations are essentially advocacy groups to ensure their own continued employment. The push for money to be spent on getting women into STEM generally benefits white, educated females already in STEM and does little to address the wider problem of work/life balance for men and women. There are no funds to get more men into daycare/early childhood education jobs, there are no funds put toward PSA's to encourage women to give men custody of children in breakups or to encourage men to be stay at home parents (which would largely solve the gender pay gap). Instead, women still want the right to be primary care givers as well as have successful careers - a right even men don't have. Women's groups would rather advocate for daycare to have their children raised by the state rather than advocate that one person in the relationship take time off from their career to raise children (and a stay at home parent is still entitled to 50% of all assets earned during the relationship, plus support, so they do in effect "earn" an income). This goes to a deep societal bias by women that men can't raise children and that men are still the primary providers in relationships. It's also very notable in all the rhetoric about the "gender wage gap" that little is mentioned of the "racial wage gap". Current statistics indicate that white men AND white women earn more than Black or Latino men or women. Again, we have to examine all the information available because statistics, studies and quotes are often biased and skewed towards the benefiting the messenger.

In gaming though, there are Indie game developers who create games because they have a passion for gaming, their are bloggers who write for free, there are streamers and critics and artists who create media with no financial benefit because they love gaming. In feminism, there are also those who blog or produce media simply because they have a passion for their feminist ideals. However, just as most passionate gamers would love to be paid to be gamers, most feminists would love to be paid to be feminists.

It's important though that we note the difference. When there is a financial incentive in either gaming or feminism, it will naturally affect the product and there will be a resulting bias/effect towards ensuring continued profitability. In gaming, this tends toward creating games for the largest consumer base that buys the product, and in feminism this tends towards creating a "victim" scenario that has proven to be profitable. As consumers, it's important that we examine the message, the messenger and their motivations.

Concluding Thoughts... sort of.

The fact is that most people in North America are gamers who play some form of video game, whether it's on facebook, their mobile phone, a PC or a console. Most people in North America are also feminists who believe that men and women are equals. The rest of it... it's all semantics, philosophies, politics. I do hope that eventually the tide will change and gaming will be celebrated for what it is... a diverse world where women can explore being men, where men can explore being women, where there are female warriors and male "cooking mama's". Unlike other media, gender truly is flexible in gaming and gaming's history shows a slow but steady track in reflecting cultural changes, often well ahead of other media.

There really isn't "50 shades of gaming"... what there is instead is "50 shades of feminism". Most of the "misogyny" in video games is simply a reflection of the larger issues within feminism. Feminism is confusing, not just to gamers, but also to feminists themselves. The word "misogyny" is used so often now, that it has lost all meaning for me - increasingly it seems used to simply deter any form of valid criticism - the bulletproof vest of feminism, which infantilizes women as children who require special treatment and can't have their feelings hurt with any reasonable discussion or disagreement with aspects of their philosophies. The increased rhetoric of "if you're not supporting us, you're against us" is also problematic for me and frankly seems childish and ignoring life's "gray" where there are many shades to any issue. For all the issues that feminists have with video games... most of those same arguments hold true for issues within feminism itself.

I do have to thank Feminist Frequency for bringing feminism into gaming... otherwise I would never have noticed how much feminism has changed over the years. I was born in the early 1960's and my earliest memories of feminism were positive messages about empowerment and being equal to men. I was raised to believe I was a feminist who could achieve anything I wanted to achieve and my gender would not limit me. Apparently I missed a meeting and feminism has changed to the point that there seems to be no cohesive message to feminism anymore, and the messages are confusing. In particular, I find feminist Frequency's anti-male feminism somewhat crystallized my distaste for current feminist thought. When a shapeless, personality-less, neutral object is held up as a "positive female character" I have to say that I really don't want this form of feminism and where there is a continual stereotyping of men as violent sexual abusers of women I'm out. Feminism has also become commercial... with various companies, individuals and groups promoting various feminist causes/ideologies in order to sell a product (or themselves as is the case with many feminist writers/content producers). I think, for the time being, I will call myself an Intersectionalist who advocates for Intersectionalism. I do believe that individuals (rather than classes of people) face more discrimination based on their intersecting oppressions. I've said it many times, and I'll say it again, as an educated, middle class, cis-gendered heterosexual, white woman, I have more opportunities in life and face less oppression than many men. I view myself and others as individuals and not as specific "classes" of people with interchangeable experiences based on gender, race, sexual orientation, gender identification, education, class, weight, disability, addiction, mental disorder, ETC.


Mostly, do NOT TELL ME that I am "oppressed". I really fucking hate that phrase. Eleanore Roosevelt once said "no one can make you feel inferior without your consent" I refuse to give my consent.


I'm gonna post this shit now... and as noted, this is mostly for me and I will hopefully continue to make changes as my own views change (and it's probably a total mess.. but let me know if a link doesn't work or something doesn't make sense)

(Oh, and a quick "about me". Many of you here know me, but for those that don't I've been an avid gamer since Zork. I am currently a console gamer with a PS3 and Xbox 360 (and will be acquiring a PS4 in a few months). I have platinum trophies in MAG, Far Cry 3, Dragon's Dogma, Skyrim and I'm pretty close in Destiny. I've been active in online gaming communities since around 2005. I've attended PAX and gaming events. My primary genres are FPS and WRPG games and I always use a mic (and talk too much) in online games. I'm 53 years old, had a career in the Construction industy and then in Human Resources and am currently retired. I've always gamed a lot, but now that I'm retired I game too much... several hours a day at least. I love gaming and hope to eventually see gaming journalists become better educated regarding the various feminist ideologies/philosophies and start advocating for gaming as a positive force for women.)




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About Elsaone of us since 2:27 PM on 01.25.2009

I'm 55 years old. I'm female, a cancer survivor, happily married, and retired from the work force... and I spend way too much time gaming. I enjoy long walks on the beach, with a gun, sometimes with my husband - shooting n00bs.
I not only like to shoot people, I also enjoy cooking and crafting. Mostly I make my own armor in games like Skyrim and cook my own potions after a busy day of hacking and slashing my way through various critters, guards and bandits in most any WRPG game.

If you're into a threesome or foursome with a mature couple, then come join us - only be sure to bring a med kit. We're old, sometimes we fall down and can't get back up without some help!


PSN: Elsa
XBL: Elssa62
(I currently have an Xbox 360, PS3, PS4, PSVita, a barely functioning PSP, and a variety of iOS/Android devices)


Recent Favorites:
WARHAWK!!
MAG (over 2000 hours!)
Dragon's Dogma
UT3
Portal 1&2
Sacred 2
Demon Souls/Dark Souls
Bioshock series
Elder Scrolls Series (Oblivion and Skyrim)
Fallout series
Tomb Raider series
Dragon Age series
Resistance series
Killzone Series
Left 4 Dead 2
Mass Effect Series
Far Cry Series
Destiny (strangely addicting)
Neverwinter


Some blogs I wrote that I like:

Fun Facts about Females
Casting Call: Chester the Skeleton
Help, Help! I'm being repressed
Girls with Guns
Guess the Gender
A Girl's Guide to FPS Gaming
Me and My Chainmail Bikini...
Adopt a Troll!
Fanboy Wars - the game!
Me and my digital dick
Invisibility of the older woman
Feminist Frequency and Relevance

Some of my Promoted C-Blogs:
Undies and a Knife
He dumped me! That Bastard!
Love/Hate: Being a Girl Gamer
The Future: The Year is 2029
My Expertise: Leader of Men
The Great Escape: From Physical Pain
More than Just Noise: Boom Headshot!
2010 Sucked: Game Addiction Issues
Technical Difficulties: He teabagged me!


Email: exrecruiter.at.msn.com




































































































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Xbox LIVE:Elssa62
PSN ID:Elsa


 

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