I'll admit I just got around watching Tropes vs. Women in Video Games for the first time (yeah, a good 5 years or so late to the party).
From what people told me, I was expecting a crazy extremist host with an extremely biased script, but... Anita Sarkeesian just seems to be politely expressing her opinions, and she even says that these flaws she's exposing shouldn't make us dislike video games, but think a bit more about the clichés they use so often. She doesn't seem dishonest or aggressive either.
Am I not seeing something? What am I missing?
My opinion of Anita Sarkeesian is a mixed one. Personally, I have found her Tropes vs. Women in Video Games series to be the best material that Feminist Frequency has published to date, and I broadly agree with its contents. I mean occasionally they contain a bit of reaching for specific examples of this and that, but a solid 95% of it seems spot on to me. Moreover, Anita's presentation is ridiculously polite to the point of bordering on apologetic at times. It's abundantly clear that she was not going around trying to provoke unwarranted controversy, but rather seeking but to present a real academic argument about various ways in which women are commonly stereotyped and harmfully misrepresented in many video games, alongside ideas as to how that can be changed.
In fact, the truth is that I might not even still be paying attention to gaming today had it not been for Anita's Tropes series. At the time of its announcement, I was in a place of considerable disillusionment with my hitherto lifelong hobby and where it seemed to be going and the Tropes series gave a well-articulated voice to a lot of the issues I had and opened up a(n unfortunately very contentious) conversation about them. Previous to the announcement of Tropes back in 2012, that conversation was being held mostly on the margins. Tropes brought it to the cultural forefront. It's not likely pure coincidence that this console generation has witnessed a significant increase in attentiveness to female gamers by developers and publishers of video games.
I think there are shortcomings to the Tropes type of approach to critique, namely in that simply providing developers and publishers with a list of problematic tropes to hopefully avoid affords the same with the simple solution of simply excluding female characters from gaming narratives altogether. Perhaps this mentality is why those at Feminist Frequency regard titles like The Last Guardian as "feminist" works, for instance. It's a wonderful game, but is it really specifically feminist? I don't know if I'd go that far. Though honestly, it must be said that, like many others, I too would actually prefer that female characters be completely absent from any given title than poorly represented therein. I must concede that.
But aside from material attached to the Tropes series and other Feminist Frequency commentaries on video games, as well as Anita's IMO often fun earlier material preceding the Tropes series, I often have a hard time relating to the material and ideas that are promoted on the Feminist Frequency web site. Since the 2016 U.S. presidential election in particular, the overall focus of the Feminist Frequency web site has shifted away from addressing the inequities experienced by women to other issues that don't seem that directly and specifically related, and occasionally seem hostile, in fact. The language has changed too. Where Anita used to use terms like "prostituted women", for instance, she now uses the non-abolitionist term "sex worker" in its place, perhaps to avoid further alienating her 68% male viewing audience. Likewise, where Anita used to promote some semi-radical ideas like separate subway cars for women to protect against sexual assaults that often take place in such contexts, now the situation has devolved to the promotion of gender-neutral bathrooms and locker rooms because trans politics. I have found many of most popular tweets and Facebook messages sent out by Anita et al. in the last couple years to be irksome, such as a popular one opposing last year's women's strike on Women's Day on the grounds that labor actions are "elitist". And anti-racism has really become the main topic that the group focuses on talking about anymore.
I guess what I'm saying is that I've observed an unfavorable shift away from female-centered, and even just female-friendly, content on and around the Feminist Frequency web site since the election of Trump. The previous women-centered overall focus has been displaced by an IMO misguided focus on race relations and the promotion of gender identity politics (namely the transgender movement and its goals) and that shift has rendered me qualitatively less interested in continuing to follow their material since the conclusion of the Tropes series a year and a half ago now. It wasn't for generic liberal critiques of conservative politics that I became interested in Anita & crew's work. It was for the general quality of Anita's commentaries on female-specific issues surrounding my favorite hobby. With neither video games nor women as central focuses of what they do anymore, it's harder for me to sustain interest now.
Last edited by Jaicee - on 13 September 2018